Meaning of Estoppel
Section 115 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 incorporates the meaning of estoppel as when one person either by his act or omission, or by declaration, has made another person believe something to be true and persuaded that person to act upon it, then in no case can he or his representative deny the truth of that thing later in the suit or in the proceedings. In simple words, estoppel means one cannot contradict, deny or declare to be false the previous statement made by him in the Court.
1. Simran, a leading entrepreneur, wants to buy a car. Raj is her good friend who owns a classic car of great worth. When Simran contacts Raj to help her in purchasing a car, he says that she can buy his car which he has been planning to sell for some time now. Simran buys his car. Later on, the car becomes Raj’s property. Raj takes the defense that when he sold that car to Simran, he had no title over it. The court held that Raj would be liable and will have to prove his want of title.
2. If Thanos is an employee of company XYZ but in court, he denies to be an employee of that company, then, later on he could not claim the salaries and emoluments from that company.
3. A, an agent of C, mortgaged his property to B which he was in the possession of but was not the owner. B, the mortgagee, in good faith, believing the representation to be true took the mortgage. Thereafter, he obtained a decree and the property was sold. The real owner of the property, C, claimed that it was his property and that A had no power to mortgage them. The court would stop A from making such a claim under the doctrine of estoppel.
4. M, a tenant in the house of N, falsely representing to Q that he had transferable rights over the property and thereafter transferring property to N, later on, cannot claim that he had no transferable interest in the property. He would be estopped from doing so under the doctrine of estoppel.
Types of Estoppel
Estoppel by a matter of Record or Quasi-record
Alike res judicata once a court has given the judgement, the parties, their representatives, their executors, etc. all are bound by that decision. This doctrine stops the parties to a case, from raising another suit in the same matter or to dispute the facts of the case after the decision has been made by the court.
Estoppel by Deed
It is the concept where two parties enter into an agreement by way of a deed as to certain facts. This implies that neither he nor his representatives or any person claiming under him can deny the facts mentioned and agreed in the deed.
Estoppel by Pais or Estoppel by Conduct
The elucidated meaning of ‘Estoppel by Pias’ is ‘Estoppel in the Country’ or ‘Estoppel before the public’. It has been discussed in Ss. 115 to 117.
Estoppel by conduct means when a person through agreement, misrepresentation or negligence makes the other person believe in certain things upon which the other person had taken some action causing a change in their current situation, then the first person cannot deny the veracity of the statements given by him in the latter stages.
Estoppel by election
Kantabai offers his maid Meena Malhotra her second-hand car. Meena out of generosity says that she would not take it for free. Kantabai says to Meena that she has the freedom to take it as a gift or to make a payment as per her willingness. Meena has the option to either take it as a gift or claim a right over it by purchasing the car. Now, Meena makes the payment and takes the car in her possession. After a year, Meena becomes bankrupt and asks Kantabai to return the money which she had given to her as the payment for buying the car, as she now wants it as a gift.
According to the doctrine of estoppel by election the person receiving the gift or claiming the right can enjoy one of them and not both of them. So Meena cannot now go back upon it and take the other option.
When a person tries to take a legal action that would conflict with his previously given statements, claims or acts, this legal principle would prohibit him from doing so. So, the plaintiff would be stopped from bringing a suit against the defendant who acted pursuant to the commands of the plaintiff.
Estoppel by negligence
This principle allows one party to claim a right over the property of another party who might not be having the possession of it. This reflects that the person being estopped owes a duty to the other person whom he had led into wrong belief.
Estoppel by Benami Transaction
Estoppel on a Point of law
The Doctrine of estoppel does not apply to statutes but only to the facts. Estoppel, if applied to the law would go against public policy and general welfare of the society. The principle of estoppel can never be invoked for the purpose of defeating the provisions of law.
We often see promises being made and later broken. While in some cases we can do nothing about it, but in certain circumstances, particularly in matters related to land or property, there is a possibility to bring a claim to enforce a broken promise. This is called proprietary estoppel.
Estoppel by Convention
In the case of the Republic of India v. India Steam Ship Company Limited,  it was observed that estoppel by convention arises when parties to a transaction assume the facts or the law. This assumption might be made by both the parties or either of the parties. Under this principle, parties to an agreement could not deny to the assumed facts, because if the party or parties are allowed to go back on their assumptions, it would be unfair and lead to injustice.
Estoppel by Acquiescence
When one party, through a legitimate notice, informs the other party about the facts of a claim, and the other party fails to acknowledge it, that is, neither he/she challenges it nor does refute it within a reasonable period of time. The other party now would be estopped from challenging it or making any counterclaim in the future. The other party is said to have accepted the claim though reluctantly, that is, he/she has acquiesced it.
Pappi Lahari from Bihar entered into a contract with Batman from Chennai whereby Pappi would supply 100 bales of cotton to Batman in exchange of 25,000 rupees. While signing the contract they agreed to the fact that in case of any dispute between them, the case would be filed in the court of in Tamil Nadu. Once agreed the parties cannot, later on, assert to change the jurisdiction in the particular case. They are bound by the principle of contractual estoppel.
This principle would apply even when the original statement made by the parties is not true.
When one person through his speech or conduct makes the other person believe in a particular thing and induces him to act upon it, he would be estopped from taking any conflicting or contrary or erratic position, which could cause loss to the other party.
The doctrine of collateral estoppel safeguards a criminal from being prosecuted for the same issue as raised in the earlier trial in more than one criminal trial.
It prevents a party from making conflicting or contradicting statements as to what was previously said in the court as this would adversely affect the court proceedings and also cause disrepute to the court.
It means that the assignor or the grantor, in the subject matter of assignment or grant, cannot in the latter stage deny the validity of title.
Exceptions to Estoppel
Following are the exceptions to the doctrine of estoppel
• This doctrine does not apply when both parties have the entire knowledge of the things in their matter.
• Estoppel cannot be applied against statutes and regulations. It should not come in conflict with the statutes and regulations.
• It would not apply to cases where one party has exceeded his power while acting or taking a decision.
• It cannot be applied against the sovereign acts or the government