Promissory Estoppel X | The Last Word


Motilal Padampat Sugar Mills, (1979) 2 SCC 409 was authored by Bhagwati J for a Two-Judge Bench. Within 2 years, Kailasam J for a Two-Judge Bench in Jit Ram Shiv Kumar, (1981) 1 SCC 11 found fault in Motilal Padampat Sugar Mills and held, observations made were not in tune with Judgments of Constitution Benches in M. Ramanatha Pillai v. State of Kerala, (1973) 2 SCC 650 and State of Kerala v. Gwalior Rayon Silk Manufacturing (WVG.) Co. Ltd., (1973) 2 SCC 713 and Judgment of Four-Judge Bench in Excise Commissioner, U.P., Allahabad v. Ram Kumar, (1976) 3 SCC 540.  

Judgment of Three-Judge Bench delivered through Bhagwati J in Union of India v. Godfrey Philips India Ltd., (1985) 4 SCC 369 endorsed Motilal Padampat Sugar Mills. It also criticizes Jit Ram Shiv Kumar.

A.P. Sen J speaking for Three-Judge Bench in Express Newspapers Pvt. Ltd. v. Union of India, (1986) 1 SCC 133, noted a conflict between view taken by Bhagwati J in Motilal Padampat Sugar Mills Co. Ltd. and Kailasam J in Jit Ram Shiv Kumar. Express Newspapers Pvt. Ltd. did not notice Godfrey Philips India Ltd., since it was delivered within a fortnight.

M. Ramanatha Pillai had approved, Doctrine of Estoppel will not be applied against State in its governmental, public or sovereign capacity. It is a consistent view, reiterated in Godfrey Philips India Ltd., there can be no Promissory Estoppel against Legislature in exercise of its legislative functions.

Hon’ble Justice B.R. Gavai, M/s. Hero Motocorp Ltd. v. Union of India, [Civil Appeal No. 7405 of 2022].



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