Admissions may operate as estoppel and they do so where parties had agreed to abide by them. The word ‘information’ occurring in s.20 is not to be understood in the sense that the parties desired to know something which none of them had any knowledge of. Where there is a dispute as regards a certain question and the Court is in need of information regarding the truth on that point, any statement which the referee may make is nevertheless information within the purview of s.20.
S.20 of the Evidence Act reads as follows:
“20. Admissions by persons expressly referred to by party to suit–
Statements made by persons to whom a party to the suit has expressly referred for information in reference to a matter in dispute are admissions.”
The question is whether a horse sold by A to B is sound. A says to B-“Go and ask C, C knows all about it.” C’S statement is an admission.
S.20 is the second exception to the general rule laid down in s.18.
Section 18 reads as follows-
18. Admission by party to proceeding or his agent.—
Statements made by a party to the proceeding, or by an agent to any such party, whom the Court regards, under the circumstances of the case, as expressly or impliedly authorized by him to make them, are admissions.
by suitor in representative character.—Statements made by parties to suits, suing or sued in a representative character, are not admissions, unless they were made while the party making them held that character.
Statements made by—
(1) party interested in subject-matter.—persons who have any proprietary or pecuniary interest in the subject-matter of the proceeding, and who make the statement in their character of persons so interested, or
(2) person from whom interest derived.—persons from whom the parties to the suit have derived their interest in the subject-matter of the suit, are admissions, if they are made during the continuance of the interest of the persons making the statements.
Section 20 deals with one class of vicarious admission i.e. admissions of persons other than the party. Where a party refers to a third person for some information or an opinion on a matter in dispute, the statements made by the third person are receivable as admissions against the person referring. The reason is that when a party refers to another person for a statement of his views, the party approves of his utterance in anticipation and adopts that as his own.
The principle is the same as that of reference to arbitration. A position analogous to that of agency is created by the reference. The reference may be by express words or by conduct, but in any case there must be a clear intention to refer, and such admissions are generally conclusive.
As Ellenbrough, L.C.J. said in Williams v. Innes from which the illustration is taken: “If a man refers another upon any particular business to a third person he is bound by what this third person says or does concerning it as much as if that had been said or done by himself.”
Hirachand Kothari (Dead) Through LRs vs State Of Rajasthan: 1985 AIR 998, 1985 SCR Supl. (1) 644