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Res-Subjudice and Res-Judicata

Res Subjudice

According to the Section 10 of Civil Procedure Code:
No Court shall proceed with the trial of any suit in which the matter in issue is also directly and substantially in issue in a previously instituted suit between the same parties, or between parties under whom they or any of them claim litigating under the same title where such suit is pending in the same or any other Court in India having jurisdiction to grant the relief claimed, or in any Court beyond the limits of India established or continued by the Central Government and having like jurisdiction, or before the Supreme Court.

The essential conditions of Res subjudice:
  1. For this rule of applicable there must be two suits.
  2. Both of the suit must be pending in to court.
  3. The matter in issue in to subsequent suit must be directly and substantially in issue in the previously instituted suit.
  4. The parties of both the suit must be the same
  5. Previously instituted suit must be pending in the same or any other court competent to grant; Relief claimed in the suit, Relief claimed in subsequent the suit.
    In the court
  6. Previous court must have the jurisdiction.
  7. Parties must litigating under the same title.

The objective of section 10
  • To Protect the person from multiplicity of proceedings and to save time
  • To avoid the conflict of decisions and to avoid confusion.
  • To ease the process for the parties.
  • To confine the plaintiff with one litigation.
  • Avoid wasting court resources.

A, an agent of B at Delhi agreed to sell B's goods in Chennai. A, the agent files suit for balance of accounts in Chennai. B sues the agent A for accounts and his negligence in Delhi; while case is pending in Chennai. In this case, Delhi Court is precluded from conducting trail and A can petition Chennai Court to direct stay of proceedings against Delhi Court.

Case laws:
  • Indian Bank V Maharashtra State Co-Operative Marketing Federation 1998:
    In this case it was held that section10 CPC helps prevent courts of concurrent Jurisdiction from simultaneously trying two parallel cases in order to avoid inconsistent findings on the matter in issue.
  • Dees Piston Ltd V State Bank of India 1991:
    It was held by the court that, when a matter is before a competent Civil Court, the National Commission will not entertain a petition in respect of identical subject matter under Consumer Protection Act.

Res judicata

The rule of conclusiveness of the judgment is the part in the Indian law under Section 11 of the code of Civil Procedure, 1908. It comes into action when the matter is finally decided upon by the competent court and no party can be permitted to open it in a subsequent legation.

Section 11 states that:

No Court shall try any suit or issue in which the matter directly and substantially in issue has been directly and substantially in issue in a former suit between the same parties, or between parties under whom they or any of them claim, litigating under the same title, in a Court competent to try such subsequent suit or the suit in which such issue has been subsequently raised, and has been heard and finally decided by such Court.

In the case of Satyadhyan Ghosal v Deorjin Debi the court explained that:
The principle of res judicata is based on the need of giving a finality to judicial decisions. What it says is that once a res is judicata, it shall not be adjudged again. Primarily it applies as between past litigation and future litigation. When a matter, whether on a question of fact or a question of law, has been decided between two parties in one suit or proceeding and the decision is final, either because no appeal was taken to a higher Court or because the appeal was dismissed, or no appeal lies, neither party will be allowed in a future suit or proceeding between the same parties to canvass the matter again.

The essentials of the section 11:

According to this section, no court shall try any suit or issue in which:
  • The matter in issue (directly and substantially) has been directly and substantially in issue in a former suit
  • The matter must has the same parties claiming the former suit.
  • The matter must be litigated under the same title in a court competent to try such suit or a suit in which the matter has been subsequently raised and has been heard and finally decided by such court

Mandatory Provision:

Further, it must be noted that Section 11 is a mandatory provision and it is not directory in nature. According to Section 44 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 on grounds of fraud or collusion is the only exception which a former suit can be avoided is by taking recourse.

The same was discussed in the case of Beli Ram and Brothers v Chaudri Mohammad Afzal, where the court held that when it was established that the guardian of the minor had acted in collusion with the defendant, it doesn't operate as res judicata and can be set aside by invoking Section 44 of the Indian Evidence Act.

Further, in the case of Jallur Venkata Seshayya v. Tahdaviconda Koteswara Rao, 1937 the court held that:
gross negligence in former suit doesn't amount to fraud or collusion and thus acts as bar to subsequent suit.

The following are also to be taken into account:

  • former suit denotes a suit which has been decided prior to the suit in question, and not if it was prior to this suit. i.e. The cut-off is date of judgement and not the date of institution of the suit.
  • competency of a court is to be decided, irrespective of the right to appeal from a former suit.
  • the matter referred to in this suit must have been alleged by one party and either accepted or refused by the other party (expressly/impliedly).
  • any matter which might or ought to have been made ground of attack/defence in such former suit shall be deemed to have been a matter directly and substantially in issue in such suit (constructive res judicata).
  • if any relief was claimed in plaint and was not granted expressly, it would be deemed to have been refused in such former suit.
  • when persons litigate bonafide in respect of a public/private right claimed in common for themselves and others, all persons interested for the purpose of section 11 , will be deemed as claiming under persons litigating,
  • it is also to be remembered that, a court of limited jurisdiction where the former suit was instituted and decided upon, shall operate as res judicata, even if the court of limited jurisdiction is not competent to try the subsequent suit.
  • this section 11 applies to execution proceedings also.

Public Interest Litigations:

In case of res judicata, a Public Interest Litigation can be applicable only when the former suit was bonafide in nature and that it will not act as a shield in cases where public good is threatened or questioned.

In the case of Rural litigation and Entitlement Kendra v State of Uttar Pradesh, the Supreme Court observed that the writ petition before them was not an inter-party dispute and the controversy in it was whether mining was to be allowed or not. Thus it was a matter that decided the social safety and providing hazardous free environment. It was further discussed by the court that this matter was of grave public importance and therefore, res judicata could not be used as a shield.

Further in the case of Ramdas Nayak v Union of India, court observed that, by invoking re judicata, it was high time for the court to end repetitive litigations coming under the grab of public interest litigations.

With the ever-increasing cases in the courts and the heightened burden on the courts because of several frivolous and repetitive suits, it is inevitable that to ensure smooth functioning of the judicial system as well as for providing justice to needy parties that these two doctrines are rigorously implemented. These doctrines are not and must not be used for the purpose of avoidance of justice. Rather, the purpose is to make the judiciary more efficient.

The doctrine of Res Sub Judice operates as a stay from the same subject matter in issue being parallel instituted in two different Courts and the twin objectives of Section 10 CPC are, Avoiding conflicting decisions and findings. Avoiding wastage of Court resources and time.

The doctrine of Res Judicata, on the other hand, aims to ensure that a matter once closed after exhaustion of all remedies is not re-opened. This is important as if it were not in place, the cases would go on in perpetuity and there would be no conclusion in any matter.

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