It is abundantly clear, Principle of Promissory Estoppel cannot be invoked for enforcing promises in teeth of provisions of law [Motilal Padampat Sugar Mills, (1979) 2 SCC 409; Amrit Banaspati Co. Ltd., (1992) 2 SCC 411; Bangalore Development Authority v. R. Hanumaiah, (2005) 12 SCC 508; State of Gujarat v. Arcelor Mittal Nippon Steel India Ltd., (2022) SCC OnLine SC 76].
Pawan Alloys & Casting Pvt. Ltd., Meerut v. U.P. State Electricity Board, (1997) 7 SCC 251 propounded, if State, in exercise of its sovereign powers, grants any tax exemptions for a specified period, Principle of Promissory Estoppel does not bar premature withdrawal of such exemptions for protecting ‘public interest’. While reflecting upon element of ‘public interest’ as enunciated in Pawan Alloys, Abraham Lincoln intrudes into our thought process. He, soon after winning Civil War, refused to give in to his earlier promise of re-construction to State of Louisiana.
“But, as bad promises are better broken than kept, I shall treat this as a bad promise, and break it, whenever I shall be convinced that keeping it is adverse to public interest. But I have not yet been so convinced.”
– Hon’ble Justice Hrishikesh Roy, Augustan Textile Colours Pvt. Ltd. v. Director of Industries, [Civil Appeal No. 2830 of 2022].