Estoppel and Admissions

Forums Indian Evidence Act, 1872 Estoppel and Admissions

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  • #3262
    leaglesamiksha
    Keymaster

    Sec 31 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, reads as follows: “Admissions are not conclusive proof but may operate as estoppel”. The technical terms like “admission”, “conclusive proof” and “estoppel” add a lot of weight to the section. Estoppel refers to prohibiting someone from going back on their word.
    Ques. What is the ambit of the word ‘estoppel’ under Sec 31 of the Indian Evidence Act? What does the section seek to include?

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    • #3263
      Intern
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      Section 31 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 reads as follows: “admissions are not conclusive proof but may operate as estoppel”. Firstly, understanding of this section requires some basic knowledge about ‘admissions’, ‘conclusive proof’, and ‘estoppel’. So, Admission- as given under section 17 of the Indian Evidence Act means all statements, given by any persons, either orally or in written which has the capability of developing inference as to the facts-in-issue or relevant facts. The usage of ‘any persons’ needs further clarification and that can be extorted from section 18 of the Indian Evidence Act, which says persons includes parties of the proceedings, agents of parties (whom the court regards as authorized), party of representative character (authorized), any person with interest in the subject-matter of the case, and person from whom interest derived. Next, the concept of Conclusive Proof in evidence law. Normally in a civil/criminal court practice, there are three stages involved in admitting a fact as proof. In the first stage, all facts are considered as ‘not proved’ and then as ‘proved’ and finally as ‘disproved’. So, in case of facts that are statutorily proven and when that is claimed by either party, court is obligated to stop the process in the second stage itself. To be precise, when facts of such nature are proved before courts, the opposite party gets no opportunity to rebut or disprove it. Thus, the inference drawn out of these two definitions is that “admission by one party to a suit can be disproved by the other”.
      Then comes the chief concern as to the usage of the word – estoppel. General understanding of estoppel is that it is the rule that prohibits a person from making contradictions as to his previous actions and statements. But, when it comes to Evidence law, estoppel, having the above-said definition as a base, got shaped in an exclusive way (for reference section 115 of IEA). Yet our point of discussion does not require interpretation of definition provision on estoppel. Therefore Section 31 of the Indian Evidence Act has used the term estoppel generally, yet not loosely.
      The word ‘estoppel’ is not loosely used here because it insisted on the need for further explanation when we say admissions are substantive proof of evidence and are not conclusive proof as well. There comes the question can statements given under section 31, be withdrawn by the same person who gave such admission. Answer to this question is inbuilt in the phrase “may operate as estoppel”. Insertion of the word ‘may’ make the estoppel condition non-

      stringent, wherefore not all admissions or in other words not under all circumstances admissions are irreplaceable. Thus, one who gives admission can withdraw or claim it to have been wrongly made before the person to whom it was made starts believing and thereby acts upon it. And it is also upon the court to admit the same, partly or wholly. Since admissions are substantive evidences, do not make itself admissible. Besides, it is to be understood that usage of ‘may’ does not encourage dishonest and false admissions for which stricter interpretation and sometimes harmonious constructions are required depending upon the facts and circumstances of the case.

      REFERENCE

      1. Indian Evidence Act 1872 § 31, §17, § 18, § 115.
      2. VEPA P. SARATHI, LAW OF EVIDENCE 120 (7th ed. 2017)
      3. Rengasami Reddiar vs M K Mummachi Reddiar (2002) 1 MLJ 760
      4. Ambati Durgamma and ors. vs Pericherla Jagapathiraju 2005 (1) ALD 607
      5. D. Narasimha Rao v. Y. Peda Venkaiah 1998 (2) ALT 513

      ~ Manimozhi Balakrishnan

    • #3264
      Intern
      Participant

      Section 31 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 provides that admissions are not conclusive proof but may operate as estoppels. This section gives the evidentiary value of admissions containing in Sections 17 to 30 of the Evidence Act.
      Admission defined under section 17 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, is a statement that is declared orally or documentary or contained in the electronic form made by any person in the matter of fact in issue or relevant fact.
      Admission by party to the proceeding or his agent, section 18 of the Indian Evidence Act states that any person deriving the statement by the party to the proceeding or agent of the parties whom the court authorized unless statement made by party interested in subject matter or person from whom interest derived.
      Section 19 of the Indian evidence act 1872, that the statement made by persons whose position or liability, it is necessary to prove against any party as admissions.
      Section 20 of the Indian evidence act,1872 referred for information in reference to a matter in dispute are admissions by persons to the party in the suit.
      Section 21 of the Indian evidence act 1872- Proof of admissions against persons making them, and by or on their behalf.
      Sec 22 of the Indian Evidence Act,1872- Oral admissions as to the content of a document are not relevant unless and until the party proves to give secondary evidence of documents under the rules contained or question to be produced.
      Sec 23 of the Indian Evidence Act,1872 -Admissions in civil cases is irrelevant unless and until the parties express that evidence of it is not to be given, or else the court can conclude that the parties decided not to give the evidence.
      Sec 24 of the Indian Evidence Act,1872 – Confession caused by inducement, threat, or promise, when irrelevant in a criminal proceeding
      Sec 25 of the Indian Evidence Act,1872 – Confession to police officer not to be proved
      Sec 26 of the Indian Evidence Act,1872 -Confession by accused while in the custody of police not to be proved against him unless it is made in the immediate presence of a Magistrate shall be proved
      Sec 27 of the Indian Evidence Act,1872 – How much information received from the accused may be proved
      Sec 28 of the Indian Evidence Act,1872- Confession made after removal of impression caused by inducement, threat, or promise relevant
      Sec 29 of the Indian Evidence Act,1872 – Confession otherwise relevant not to become irrelevant because of the promise of secrecy, etc.
      Sec 30 of the Indian Evidence Act,1872- Consideration of proved confession affecting person making it and others jointly under trial for the same offense.

    • #3648
      Akshay_Luthra
      Participant

      The word “estoppel” creates an absolute bar under this section. A mere admission is conclusive only where it has been acted on by the other party, by creating a substantive right, does oblige the estopped party to make good his representation, in other words it is conclusive. Thus, a heavy burden of proof lies on the part who wants to get rid of his admissions. An estoppel differs from admission, generally, it can’t be taken advantage of by strangers. It binds only parties and privies.

      This Section says that an admission is not conclusive proof, but it doesn’t say that an admission is not sufficient proof without corroboration. The express admissions of a party to the suit, or admissions implied from his conduct, are strong evidences against him. A admission doesn’t estop the party who makes it, he is still at liberty to disapprove it by evidence so far as regards his own interest. But if the admission is duly proved and if the person against whom it is proved doesn’t satisfy the court that it was mistaken or untrue, nothing can prevent the court from deciding the case in accordance with it.

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