Indian Navy cannot go back from its promise on 10+10 case
The principle of estoppel in India is a rule of evidence incorporated in Section 115 of The Indian Evidence Act, 1872. The section reads as follows:
“When one person has, by his declaration, act or omission, intentionally caused or permitted another person to believe such a thing to be true and to act upon such belief, neither he nor his representative shall be allowed, in any suit or proceeding between himself and such person or his representative, to deny the truth of that thing.”
The Indian Navy has recruited many young persons and even those who were young boys below the age of 18 years, into the Navy luring them with high promises. When these persons joined the Navy they were put to very hard training and service at meager Salary & allowances. Since large number of personnel were recruited, they did not get timely promotions as were available to others who had joined before them. Most of these personnel were dis-satisfied and opted to not to further sign the contract for another active service of 5 years to become eligible for Normal Service Pension. Even if they dont sign further, as per contract already held with them, they were to be kept as Reservist for 10 years and such an impression was given during entire period of their service as the same terms were lying in their service document through out. But at the end of the period of active engagement, they were not kept in Reserve by forcing them to sign further for 5 years active service. The Govt of India, Ministry of Defence issued a letter on 3rd July, 1976 making a policy to not to keep the Reservist any more. In this way the Reservist Pension was also denied to these young men who fought the War of 1971.
The doctrine of promissory estoppel is an equitable doctrine. Like all equitable remedies, it is discretionary, in contrast to the common law absolute right like right to damages for breach of contract. The doctrine has been variously called ‘promissory estoppel’, ‘equitable estoppel’, ‘quasi estoppel’ and ‘new estoppel’. It is a principle evolved by equity to avoid injustice and though commonly named ‘promissory estoppel’, it is neither in the realm of contract nor in the realm of estoppel.
Armed Forces Tribunal at Chennai in one of the case No. OA 83 of 2012 granted Reservist Pension to 3 persons of the Navy having signed for 10+10 years of service with the Navy. i.e. 10 years active service and 10 years reservist service. It is hard pressing and un-believable that the Indian Navy has appealed in the Supreme Court of India against the verdict of the AFT Chennai. Navy and Govt of India do not want to give Reservist Pension by making many lame excuses. The Appeal of the Navy is still in the highest court of the country. Lets see, if the ex- sailors who fought 1971 war get the benefit of Promissory Estopple or not.
The true principle of promissory estoppel is where one party has by his words or conduct made to the other a clear and unequivocal promise which is intended to create legal relations or effect a legal relationship to arise in the future, knowing or intending that it would be acted upon by the other party to whom the promise is made and it is in fact so acted upon by the other party, the promise would be binding on the party making it and he would not be entitled to go back upon it. It is not necessary, in order to attract the applicability of the doctrine of promissory estoppel that the promisee acting in reliance of the promise, should suffer any detriment. The only thing necessary is that the promisee should have altered his position in reliance of the promise.
In conclusion, it can be said that if the Government of India or of any State in India makes a promise to any person and the promise is not inconsistent with the law of the land and is not against public interest, then afterwards it cannot refuse to abide by its promise. The Supreme Court of India has said that acting on the assurance or representations is enough and consequent detriment, damage or prejudice caused is not to be proved. It is also immaterial whether such representation was wholly or partially responsible for such alteration in the position. The Supreme Court has rightly observed that the concept of detriment now is not merely monetary loss but whether it appears unjust. It is inequitable that the promisor should be allowed to resile from the assurance or representation having regard to what the promisee has done or refrained from doing in reliance on the assurance or representation. Hence, one can rely on the lawful promise of the Government of India and can safely act on the same because the law of the land is there to protect the citizens.
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