The Doctrine of Promissory Estoppel, which is also known as Promissory Estoppel, Equitable Estoppel, Quasi Estoppel, and New Estoppel, is the name of an equitable doctrine. This one is evolved with the intention to avoid injustice and it falls in the sphere of neither contract nor estoppel, even though it is commonly named Promissory Estoppel. This kind of principle is usually used in common law if there is any breach or contract or against a government.
The Doctrine of Promissory Estoppel means if one is promised by the government in India and the promise is nor inconsistent with the law of the land and is in no way to be against the public interest, then there is no way to refuse the promise that has been made.
In order to understand the concept of the Doctrine of Promissory Estoppels, tracing its evolution is important. This kind of study is important to understand the judicial process by a specific doctrine that has been enlarged or contracted and to make a correct rule.
Estoppel is known as a rule of equity. In recent years, that one has managed to earn a few new dimensions. For instance, a new class of estoppel called promissory has become a thing that is recognized by courts in the country. In addition to its mainland, it also has been recognized in England. The full implication of this new class is yet to be spelled out. Basically, it was stated and invoked in Central London Property Trust Ltd. v. High Trees case.
Promissory estoppel is still considered as a new development. Tracing the evolution of the doctrine in England needs referring to some of the English decisions. Keep in mind that the early cases did not speak of this doctrine as estoppel and they spoke of it as raising equity instead. According to Lord Cairns in its earliest form in the words in Hughes v. Metropolitan Railway Company, it is the first principle upon which all courts of equity proceed, that is parties who have entered into definite and distinct terms involving certain legal results afterwards by their own act or with their own consent enter upon a course of negotiation which has the effect of leading one of the parties to suppose that the strict rights arising under the contract will not be enforced, or will be kept in suspense, or held in abeyance, the person who otherwise might have enforced those rights will not be allowed to enforce them where it would be inequitable having regard to the dealings which have thus taken place between the parties.
At first, the principle of equity appeared sporadic. However, in 1947, it was restated as a recognized doctrine. The one who made it was Lord Denning in Central London Properties Ltd. v. High Trees House Ltd. He asserted that a promise intended to be binding, intended to be acted upon, and in fact acted upon is binding. However, the correctness of Denning J.’s dictum has been subject to considerable rage. According to the data, there have been a total of two criticisms thrown.
Firstly, it was stated that the Promissory estoppels have a concept that offends against the rule in Jorden v. Money, the one that was held that only a representation of existing or past fact, and not the one relating to the upcoming conduct, will be the basic of an estoppel. That’s why, there is no way for the estoppel to apply, as in the High Trees case, to a promise as to the future. As the contrary, the rule in Jordan v. Money, it is not an absolute one and it is qualified by a few exceptions. For your information, one of them is that the principle expressed in Hughes v. Metropolitan Railway Co, the one that applies where a total of two parties stand together in a contractual or the other legal relationship with the similar concept, and one of them makes the other promise to hold themselves from enforcing the strict law. It can be concluded that money literally means nothing in the case of Jorden v. Money.
What was the second one? Secondly, the dictum of Denning J. was different from the decision of the House of Lords in Foakes v. Beer. However, the principle that he relied on in the High Trees was that of estoppels, the one that must be especially pleaded. In fact, a pea of estoppel was never raised in Foakes v. Beer.
Estoppels that are used in the English legal phraseology are described as matters of infinite variety. They are not limited to subjects that are dealt with in Chapter VIII of The Indian Evidence Act. It is possible for a man to be estopped not only from giving specific evidence, but from doing acts, or relying on certain arguments oil contention that the rules of equity and good conscience prevent one from using as against the opponent. Do not forget that the law that is related to estoppel appears to be too wide.
There is a doubt whether the Court could travel beyond the provisions of s. 115 of The Indian Evidence and use the equitable estoppel when determining whether the conduct of a certain somebody amounts to an estoppel.
In India, the stages of evolution of the application of this doctrine are divided into two: pre-Anglo Afghan case and post Anglo Afghan case. At first, the position was that the promissory estoppel did not apply against the government. With this case, everything has changed. In Union of India v. Anglo Afghan Agencies, the Indian Government made a few concessions with regard to the import of a specific raw material to support export of garments made of wool to Afghanistan. In fact, only a few concessions and not all of them were extended and it was different from the announcement. The Supreme Court determined that the Indian Government was estopped by its promise. Since then, the courts have used the doctrine of promissory estoppel and it is applied even against the Government.