Section 11 of the civil procedure code, 1908 states the principle of Res
Judicata. The principle of Res Judicata bars the subsequent suits by the same
parties to prevent multiplicity of litigations. The article contains brief
history and the applicability of the principle of Res Judicata.
The principle of Res Judicata has very ancient history. The concept of Res
Judicata is evolved from the English common law system. In English common law
system the principle of Res Judicata has been derived from the overriding
concept of three main parts they are:
- Judicial economy,
In the ancient Hindu period the concept of Res Judicata was known as "Purva
Nyaya" which means former judgment named by the Hindu lawyers and Mohammedan
jurists. The rule was accepted by European continent and many common wealth
countries as this concept clearly means that one suit and judgment are enough
for any dispute.
In the constitution of the United States of America this concept has been
amended by the 17thamendment.
The concept of Res Judicata has put a stop on same suits to be tried twice. As
there is increase in the volume of judicial work the need to limit the litigants
for a single dispute is necessary. The main objective to set this concept was to
put an end to litigation.
What Does Res Judicata Mean?
Res Judicata is a Latin term which means that "the thing has been judged" or a
thing adjudged. It is also known as claim preclusion. In simple terms Res
Judicata means the matter/ thing which have been already judged by the court.
The concept is applicable to:
- Execution Proceedings,
- Arbitration Proceedings,
- Taxation Matters,
- Administrative Orders,
- Writ Petitions,
- Interim Orders.
The concept of Res Judicata bars the subsequent suit when the former suit is
Res Judicata is defined under section 11 of the civil procedure code, 1908 as,
No court shall try a suit or an issue in which a matter is directly or
substantially in issue in a former suit between the same parties, litigating
under the same title in a court which is competent to try subsequent suit has
been heard and decided by such court.
For example, a person named Arjun is under possession of a property, his cousin
brother whose name is Varun claims half of this particular property to be of his
property (Varun's). For this dispute Arjun files a suit and pleads that this
property is inherited by him from his father the competent court decides the
case in favour of Arjun. Enraged by this, Varun files a suit against Arjun under
same cause of action. The suit filed by Varun will be barred by the court by
application of Res Judicata.
The principle of Res Judicata was best explained in the case of Satyadhyan
Ghosal v. Deorjin Debi
. It was held that the principle of Res Judicata is
based on the finality of the judgment. Res means subject matter where as,
Judicata means judged. It clearly puts an end to the subsequent litigation.
Essentials Of Res Judicata:
In the case of Sheodan Singh Vs. Daryao Kunwar
, the plaintiff filed a suit
for possession of a property against her brothers-in-law based on the will of
her father-in-law. However, the will was declared as premature and the suit was
dismissed. Plaintiff filed subsequent suit and the trial court granted the
decree of possession.
The defendants filed an appeal and the advocate on behalf
of defendants argued that the second suit is barred by the principle of Res
Judicata. The court stated some certain requirements to be met for a case to be
barred by the principle of Res Judicata they are as follows:
- Two suits must be present in which the former suit is decided and
subsequent suit is in issue,
- Same parties or their representatives:
It means that the parties to suit must be same in both former suit and
subsequent suit which is in issue,
- The cause of action must be same,
- The title of suit must be same,
- The court in which the former suit was tried must be competent,
- The former suit must be decided.
Nature And Scope Of Res Judicata:
The principle of Res Judicata was developed in larger interest of public so that
there should be an end to a litigation this was specified in the case of Lal
Chattel Vs. Radha Krishan. To prevent multiplicity of the suits on the same
cause so that no part can be harassed by the other party and threatened again
for the same cause of action.
The principle of Res Judicata is based upon three Latin maxims:
- Interest Reipublicae Ut Sit Finis Litium:
It Means That, It Is In The Interest Of The State That There Should Be An
End To Litigation.
- Nemo Debet Bis Vexari Pro Una Et Eadem Causa:
It Means That, No Man Should Be Vexed For The Same Reason Twice. This Maxim
Indicates The Private Justice.
- Res Judicata Pro Veritate Occipitur:
It Means That, A Judicial Descision Must Be Accepted As Correct. In Case
Where, There Is A Conflict In Judgment Then It Leads To Embarrassment Of
Kinds Of Res Judicata:
There are two kinds of Res Judicata they are:
Actual Res Judicata
- Actual Res Judicata
- Constructive Res Judicata
It means that, if a suit filed for a cause of action and the dispute is resolved
or judged by the competent court within its jurisdiction limits then the
subsequent suit filed for the same cause of action is barred by the principle of
Constructive Res Judicata:
It helps in rasing the bar. Constructive Res Judicata means that if a plea have
been taken in the former proceeding by either of the parties, and they failed to
do so they are not permitted to take the same plea against the same party in the
subsequent proceeding. It it was not adopted then it would materially affect the
The principle of Constructive Res Judicata was best explained in the case of
Workmen Vs. Board of Trustees, Cochin Port Trust
 as that if any matter or
an issue which has been directly or explicitly decided by the court the decision
operates as the principle of Res Judicata and bars the trial which is subsequent
by the same parties for the same cause of action.
If a person named Ram sues Ankit for the possession of property on the basis of
ownership and the suit is dismissed. Here, Ram cannot claim the possession of
property as mortgagee as he should have taken such plea in the former suit.
Therefore the subsequent suit is barred by the principle of Constructive Res
In the case of State of Uttar Pradesh Vs. Nawab Hussain
, M was sub
inspector and he was dismissed from the service of D.I.G. later he filed a
petition on dismissal and the court dismissed this case. Subsequently he filed a
suit, in which he argued that he was appointed by the I.G and no one had the
power to dismiss him. The defendant argued this is barred by the principle of
Rees Judicata and the court held the same.
Exceptions To Res Judicata:
However, the principle of Res Judicata does not resctricts appeals.
certain exceptions to Res Judicata they are:
- When judgment in original suit is obtained by fraud- when the fraud is
proved in the court of law the principle is not applicable.
- When previous special leave petition is dismissed- if the special leave
petition is dismissed the principle does not apply.
- When cause of action is different- if the cause of action is different
from the former suit.
- When there is interlocutory order- when an interim order is passed by
the court the principle does not apply as there is no finality in decision.
- Non competency of court- when the court which decides former suit is not
competent the principle does not apply.
- When law changes- as new laws bring new rights to the parties such are
not barred by the principle under section 11 cpc.
- In Jallur Venkata Seshayya v. Thadviconda Koteswara Rao case
there was a gross negligence on the part of plaintiff and the case was
dismissed, the court held that the principle of Res Judicata does not apply.
- In Beliram and Brothers v. Chaudari Mohammed Afzal, a case
was brought by a minor but not by the guardian and the court held that
section 11 of cpc is modified by the section 44 of the evidence law and the
principle of Res Judicata does not apply.
It can also be applied to judgment contrary to the law.
For example if a suit is dismissed in the court of law under certain ground it
may be later considered as the dismissal is not the finality of the judgment and
Res judicata does not applies to it.
The principle of Res Judicata does not apply to public interest litigations.
There are certain grounds of excpetions which cannot be barred by section 11 of
In cases of fraud and collusion with reference to section 44 of the Indian
evidence act, 1872 the doctrine is not applicable. It also has some advantages
- Code of civil procedure by C.K.Takwani
- Code of civil procedure, 1908,
- Indian evidence act, 1872,
- Previous judgment in Hinduism
- AIR 1960 SC 941: (1960) 3 SCR 590
- AIR 1966 SC 1332
- Plaintiff and defendant as stated under order 1
- Under proper jurisdiction as specified under section 9
- (1977) 2 SCC 88: AIR 1977 SC 789
- (1978) 3 SCC 119: AIR 1978 SC 1283
- AIR 1977 SC 1680
- (1937) 39 BOMLR 317
- (1948) 50 BOMLR 674