What is Res Judicata?
In Latin Res signifies a thing while Judicata means already decided. The purpose
of Res Judicata is to end litigation when a matter has been adjudicated once. It
aims to save time for courts timing and harassment to parties. 'Res judicata pro
veritate accipitur' is the legal maxim used in India. Section 11 of the Civil
Procedure Code defines Res Judicata.
It states that when a suit is already under the judicial proceedings and the
court has provided the decision, then the same suit with the same subject
matter, same parties or the legal representatives cannot be raised as another
suit to any competent court or any judicial authority inside or outside India
which is governed by the Central Government. The previous decision will be
binding throughout. The doctrine of Res Judicata is based on three maxims.
The maxims on which Res Judicata is based
Nemo debet lis vaxari pro eadem causa
"No one should be tried twice in respect to the same matter.
signifies double jeopardy. In the civil aspect it means that one shall not be
sued under the same issue more than once. Or in other words, no one shall be
punished for the same accusation brought against them.Interest reipublicae ut sit finis litium
"It is not permissible for the parties to reopen the concluded judgments of the
court as it would have a far-reaching adverse effect on the administration of
justice" - Union of India and Others v. Major S. P. Sharma and Others (2014).
The maxim says that it is for the public good that there be an end to litigation
after a long hierarchy of appeals.Re judicata pro veritate occipital
It signifies that a point judicially decided is taken to be correct. In simpler
words when a decision has been passed by a competent court on a matter in issue
between the parties after a full inquiry, the same case shall not be entertained
by the same court or any other court on the same subject matter between the same
Constructive Res Judicata
Constructive Res Judicata comes into action when the second suit is filed to a
competent court with some new evidence. To this, the court will look into the
new evidence and also interpret it to the utmost, and observe whether there was
any possibility of producing the same material in the previous appeal. In the
case of the wider scope of the existence of the same evidence that it was in
existence earlier also, the court will simply give no opportunity to proceed
with the argument and the case will be dismissed at once.State of U. P. v. Nawab Hussain (1977)
In this case, the respondent, the sub-inspector of police, was dismissed from
his position by the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of the police on the grounds
of corruption charges. He filed the writ petition to the Allahabad High Court
stating that he was denied the chance to be heard.
However, this writ was
dismissed. He, then, again filed a suit on the ground that DIG does not possess
the authority to terminate his position as he was not the same person who
appointed him. To this, the Supreme Court held that the plea was within the
knowledge of the plaintiff and was in existence during the earlier writ
petition, so on this ground, the suit is barred by Constructive Res Judicata.
When Public Interest Litigation, arbitral awards, writs, and appeals are not
subjected to Res Judicata
Public Interest Litigation
Public Interest Litigation favors human rights, equality that gets infringed for
a whole lot of people. In this, the issue is raised for public concern. It
especially focuses on the causes of minority and disadvantageous groups or
individuals. This type of case corresponds to both private and public. The
former signifies such aspects where a public body is not involved and the latter
deals with those rights and duties which are imposed upon the public at large.
Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra v. the State of U.P. (1985)
This case is also known as Doon Valley Case. It so happened that the limestone
was being extracted from the hills by using dynamite. Due to this practice, many
landslides occurred which destroyed houses of villagers, and agricultural land,
and also several villagers and cattle lost their lives. In 1991, mining was
prohibited by the Ministry of Mines.
However, mining operations were reopened
and even got the leases for twenty years, where illegal and corrupt practices
continued without any safety rules. In 1982, leases came up for renewal, and
those got rejected by the State on the grounds of ecological destruction.
However, an injunction was granted by the Allahabad High Court on the grounds of
economic benefits that resulted in the mining practices continuing.
this matter was taken to the Supreme Court where a complaint letter was sent by
the plaintiff highlighting the environmental degradation. The Court treated the
letter as a writ petition under Article 32 and conducted a review for the need
for mining operations.How the case proceeded with time
After 1983 several times this case had appeared before the courts where directly
and indirectly the subject matter was presented before the courts. In various
ways, the claims were raised in the context of ecological destruction in respect
of economic gain.
In 1983, the Court prohibited the blasting practices for the extraction of
limestone, where it determined the operations of mines concerning the safety
standards, according to the Mines Act 1952.
In 1985, the Court denied the leases as the mines were destroying the Mussoorie
City and aiding troubles to the operations of the city. This was done by
favoring the recommendation of the Bhargava Committee.
Another committee, known as the Bandyopadhyay Committee was formed which was
responsible to collect the claims of those who were severely affected by the
operations of the mine. Here, the government later provided funds and other
facilities to aid the needy ones. Also, other works of the Committee determined
the plans submitted by the miners concerning the safeguards. To this, the Court
favored a specific group of mines owned by the State to continue with the
operations, which also caused fewer damages before.
In 1897, another change came up wherein the Court ordered to cease the
operations of the mines, except for those activities that aided the interest of
the defense of the country and safeguarding the foreign exchange of the
Once again two affidavits came up before the court from the Director of
Environment, Forests, and Wildlife in the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
The content of one of them was about the detailed usage of limestone by the
industries within Uttar Pradesh but did not provide a satisfactory evaluation of
other sources of the limestone within India and the extent to which national
defence industries relied on the limestone.
A second affidavit contained all the
required evaluation and concluded that the continuing of mining operations of
any mine in the Dehradun-Mussoorie Region was not justified on the ground that
it is a requirement of the defence industries.
In 1988, the Court concluded that all the mines in Dehradun Valley should remain
closed, except for three operations.
One defect was detected that the renewal of the leases was granted before the
Act came into force, to this, the Supreme Court stated that the state government
will only renew the pre-existing leases after the review and approval by the
Central Government, concerning the provisions of the Forest Conservation Act,
A Monitoring Committee was established to determine the reforestation, mining
activities, and all other aspects necessary to bring about normalcy in the Doon
Valley. The Committee consisted of Central, State, and Local officials to carry
out the operation.
But one of the lesse misused the permission granted by the
Court and continued to quarry limestone in an unscientific manner and
disregarded the directions issued by the Monitoring Committee. To this, the
Court stated that Vijay Shree Mines had caused immense damage, and was asked to
compensate about Rs. 3 Lakh to the Monitoring Committee.
A similar issue to this was the existence of a company (ARC cement) that was in
operation since November 1982, till the Supreme Court passed the order to shift
their location to somewhere else on the grounds of pollution. But the company
failed to execute the order. Again after four years, the Supreme Court was
highly dissatisfied and passed the order to shift from the present location.
petitioner was permitted to indicate some alternative site so that there would
be an option suitable to the State Government and the Pollution Board to
consider as an acceptable site for shifting the cement factory from the present
location. The efforts to relocate the cement factory failed and in February
1995, ARC Cement was ordered to wound up by the Board for Industrial and
How the aid of Res Judicata was not applicable
Since 1982 several times, the same case has appeared with the same objective for
permission to continue the mining operations. The purpose of Res Judicata is to
prevent the same litigation more than once, and the parties follow what the
court said. But here the parties like Vijay Shree Mines and ARC Cement have
disregarded the orders passed by the Supreme Court. So in such PIL cases, there
is wide scope for the parties not to execute the orders and to continue with the
In the ARC Cement case, the maxim Res judicata pro veritate occipital
which signifies 'a point judicially decided is taken to be correct' has been
violated as even after four years the company failed to shift their
organization, where the Supreme Court passed the same order for relocation.
Interest republicae ut sit finis litium maxim that signifies 'the public
interest of a matter so that a litigation should end' has been infringed by the
case of Vijay Shree Mines, where the mine continued the operations through
unscientific manner which was against the public good which resulted in bringing
the matter related to the mine before the court, were already the court has
passed the order to maintain the safeguard for the extraction of limestone.
An arbitral award signifies the decision passed by the arbitrator in an
arbitration. It has been declared by the court that an award passed after an
arbitration proceeding shall be binding upon the parties. No parties can raise
any issue for not abiding by the award. An award can only be challenged by any
of the parties only if it fulfills the grounds mentioned under Section 34 of the
Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996.
Considering this aspect, it can be said
that even after the passing of the award there still exists a narrow scope to
challenge it, at this point, it is clear that Res Judicata cannot be applied to
the arbitral awards. This Section states five grounds and additional two more
special grounds upon which one can challenge the arbitral award.The grounds are
- When one of the parties was in incapacity and the award has been passed.
- When the party can prove that the award is null and void in the eye of law.
- When an award has been passed upon an invalid agreement or has been passed by
some arbitrator other than the appointed one.
- When no proper notice was provided to the parties by the arbitrator regarding
the arbitral proceedings.
- When the award is not dealing with the issues as mentioned in the agreement.
K.V. George v. Secretary to Government (1989)
- If the subject matter of a dispute is not for settlement as in the cases of any
- When the arbitral award conflicts with the public policy of India.
In this case, the appellant who was a contractor by profession had entered into
a contract on 22nd April 1978 for the construction of an embankment. According
to the agreement, it was decided that the work will be completed within two
years. But the appellant failed to complete the work where the respondent
canceled the contract by providing notice at his own risk.
How the case proceeded with time
After the cancelation of the contract, the appellant filed a claim stating the
dues regarding the earthwork as mentioned in the agreement. He also claimed for
the delay in the payments and costs.
To this, the respondent contended that the appellant was not entitled to any
payments as he has not completed even 35% of the work according to the contract.
Upon this, the respondent filed a counterclaim for an amount of Rs. 28,84,000.
The arbitrator passed his decision stating that the respondent should pay the
appellant according to the amount of work that has been completed. But regarding
the claim for the delay of payment by the appellant and the counterclaim by the
respondent, the arbitrator said that these are separate issues and will be dealt
The appellant again filed before Sub Judge Trivandrum for passing the award, the
respondent too raised an objection to which Sub Judge stated for new fresh
consideration as the counterclaim was not considered previously.
To this order, the appellant again filed a review on the ground of wrongful
termination of the contract.
In 1981, the arbitrator passed the award that the respondent shall provide the
remaining payment for the completed work which were not involved in the previous
arbitration. Along with this some of the other claims were allowed.
The respondent was not satisfied with the order and brought two appeals before
the Kerala High Court.
The Court held that the principle of constructive res judicata would apply to
the arbitration case. Eventually, the Court set aside the orders of the Sub
How the aid of Res Judicata was not applicable
In this judgment, the Court mentioned that the arbitrator must consider the
claims and the counterclaims at the same time during the passing of the award,
but the orders of the court were not followed. Also as it was said that the
award is binding and cannot be challenged, but in this case, it has been
challenged more than once.
In simple language, writ means 'command in writing in the name of the court.' It
signifies a legal document issued by the court that orders a person or entity to
perform a specific act or to cease performing a specific action or deed.
Generally, writs are issued for the enforcement of fundamental rights.
Under Indian Law, there are five types of writs:
- Writ of Habeas Corpus
- Writ of Mandamus
- Writ of Certiorari
- Writ of Prohibition
- Writ of Quo-Warranto
Out of all these writs, Res Judicata is not applicable upon the writ of Habeas
Writ of Habeas Corpus
In a nutshell, Habeas Corpus means 'to have a body of.' This writ aids a person
in case one has been unlawfully detained or imprisoned. Due to the nobility of
this writ, the Court directs to bring the individual before the Magistrate
within 24 hours to examine the legality of one's detention. In the absence of
justified reason for the detention, the person will be released. But in case a
person has been arrested by the orders of the competent court Habeas Corpus will
not apply to that circumstance.
Srikant v. District Magistrate (2006)
In this case, the appellant's brother Shri Shivalingappa (detenu) has been
charged under the provisions of the Karnataka Prevention of Dangerous Activities
of Bootleggers, Drug Offenders, Gamblers, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders and
Slum Grabbers Act, 1985. The detention order was passed by the magistrate as the
detenu was involved in such activities which amounted to immoral activities.
order of detention was approved by the State Government and the Advisory Board.
The main ground of challenge in the writ petition was alleged non-compliance
with the procedure contemplated under Article 22(5) of the Constitution of
How the case proceeded with time
Under the present suit, the detaining authority mentioned that there was no
opportunity of making representation and the right of the detenu to make such
representation was not made known to the detenu. They also said that the
appellant had taken the matter to the High Court where it had been dismissed
because there were no new findings in the second writ petition. But the
appellant contended that Res Judicata applies to civil matters and it won't bar
the present suit as in these the liberty of a citizen is involved.
The High Court found that this contention was directly challenging the
detention, but it has no new grounds which were not raised earlier.
The appellant stated that the Court should decide based on merits as issues of
great importance were involved so here there is no role of res judicata or
constructive res judicata to play upon. But the defendant stated that in the
second writ petition no new ground was taken and since points were already
raised or were available to be raised maintainability of the subsequent writ
petition was ruled out.
Finally, the Court stated that if some surgical changes are made with the
context, substance, and essence remaining the same, it cannot be said that the
challenge is on new or fresh grounds.
How the aid of Res Judicata was not applicable
In the lower court, the detention order has been passed by the magistrate. But
in the present case, the suit had been filed against the Magistrate before the
higher court. This signifies the no. of appeals and the continuation of the
litigation. Both the reasons contradict the concept of Res Judicata. It is also
believed that Res Judicata is much more applicable in civil cases than criminal
An appeal can be defined as a measure or a legal proceeding taken to the higher
court to re-examine the decision of the lower court or to review the order of an
administrative agency. The concept of appeal arises when there is an existence
of judicial hierarchy. There must be a presence of question of law because the
lower courts have to interpret the facts at the initial stage.
different levels of appeal and ultimately an appeal leads to the Supreme Court.
Poovamma and Others v. Sumathi and Others (1969)
To cut a long story short, this case deals with property disputes, where the
provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 have been implemented. Here the
suit revolves among the claimants regarding the compensation entitlements.
How the case proceeded with time
In the petition, the learned Subordinate Judge of the Appellate Court held that
respondents claimants 11 to 18 were solely entitled to the entire compensation.
To this claimants 2, 4 to 7, and 19 were not satisfied and initiated this
current appeal against Claimants 11 to 18 as respondents.
During the hearing the respondents raised two preliminary objections
To this, the appellants elaborately addressed these objections.
- The appeal is barred by the principle of res judicata, as the appellants did not
appeal from the decree in the suit which was decided along with the original
petition by a common judgment.
- The entire appeal abated on the death of appellant No. 5, Vedavathi, whose legal
representatives have not been brought on record.
The learned counsel stated that there is an existence of a common ground for the
Original Petition and Original Suit where the main issues are also the same. So
there was a common judgment in both the cases with two separate decrees one for
the Original Suit and the other for the Original Petition. He also mentioned
that the decree of the Original Suit operates as res judicata, therefore no
appeal has been filed for that.
Here a question arises:
When there are two proceedings with the same issues which got disposed of by the
same judgment, and an appeal is being filed against only one decree. It becomes
a contradiction that whether the matter decided in the latter proceedings,
becomes res judicata so that it cannot be reopened in the appeal, is one on
which there is no decision of this Court. On this question, there is a conflict
of decisions of different High Courts.
To the former appeal, at the hearing, it was contended by the respondent that it
was barred by the principle of res judicata on account of the dismissal of the
latter appeal. The High Court upheld that contention and dismissed the former
appeal also on the ground that the judgment in the latter appeal operated as 'res
Against this decision of the High Court, the plaintiff again filed two appeals
that came up before the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court held that it is now well settled that where there has been one
trial, one finding, and one decision, there need not be two appeals even though
two decrees may have been drawn. The court stressed more on determining the
matter of controversy than the decree.
It was also mentioned that when there is only one suit, the question of res
judicata does not arise at all but in the present case, both the decrees are in
the same case and based on the same judgment, and the matter decided concerned
the entire suit. As such, there is no question of the application of the
principle of res judicata. The same judgment cannot remain effective just
because it was appealed against with a different number or copy of it was
attached to a different appeal.
Finally, the decree of the Original Suit regarding the title of the acquired
land which has not been appealed becomes the final and the principle of res
judicata bars the appeal from the decree in the original petition.
How the aid of Res Judicata was not applicable
From the beginning of the case starting from the Appellate court to the Supreme
Court it is observed that the case was moving by the hierarchy of the courts and
in every situation, there was a proper trial and a judgment was provided. This
is evident that the res judicata was not in action to such a situation.
the last stage, the case was dismissed, this also shows that even one gets the
right to appeal which does not correspond to getting the judgment in its favor.
Also, every time whether be it in the case of the High Court or the Supreme
Court there was an existence of a question of law that fulfilled the ground for
When Res Judicata is not applicable
When the judgment is not by merit, there lies doubt regarding the binding nature
of the judgment. Hence the judgment cannot be held and it is transparent that
there might be an existence of mala fide intention. Such a situation can also be
a part of fraud practices. Eventually, concerning Res Judicata, such a decision
won't be considered a valid judgment.
Beli Ram and Brothers v. Chaudri Mohammad Afzal, 1948Facts:
In this case, the High Court set aside the judgment of the lower court.
Ghulam Rasul was a Sunni Mohammadan of the Hanafi Sect and was possessed of
considerable property. On October 29, 1917, he executed a will for part of his
property described as part "A" and the other part of his property described as
"B" for wakfnama. There is no satisfactory evidence that Ghulam Rasul kept
separate accounts of the wakf property or that he made the monthly deposit of Rs.
1,875 as required by the wakf deed.
Also, the deed consists of several clauses,
including the terms and the conditions. The property was not transferred in the
mutation register into his name as Mutwalli and he continued to grant tenancies
in his name.
In April 1921 Mussammat Mumtaz, the daughter of Ghulam Rasul, died. On 6th April
1923, Ghulam Rasul decided to cancel the deed of the wakf.
A new document was framed where it was mentioned Chaudhri Din Mohammad and
Chaudhri Ghulam Mustafa, son of Ghulam Rasul, will become the owner in equal
shares after his death, and till then will be the absolute owner of the entire
This document was registered on 6th April 1923.
On February 6th, 1925 Gulam Rasul died. Before that, he executed various
mortgages of the property, which included the deed of the wakf. So accordingly
after his death, his sons executed various mortgages and sales of property
included in the deed of the wakf.
When new laws come into action
When an Act of Parliament is repealed, it is considered as it was never been in
existence. The effect of such a statute is demolished from the records of the
Parliament as treated in such a manner that it had never been passed and also it
is considered that the law that never existed except for those actions which
were commenced, prosecuted, and concluded whilst it was an existing law.
A repeal generally has its impacts. The rights arising from the repealed statute
get dangled also the cause of action gets destroyed. Any proceeding which is yet
to begin or pending at the time of enactment of the repealing act is prosecuted
for a final judgment and creates a vested right.
Keshavan Madhava Menon v. the State of Bombay, 1951Facts
In this case, Keshavan Madhava was the secretary of the company 'Peoples
Publishing House Ltd' which was registered under the Indian Companies Act. In
Bombay, they published a pamphlet in September 1949. It was under the name
'Railway Mazdooran Ke Khilaf Nayi Sazish
The defense stated that the plaintiff has committed an offense as he had not
taken the permission of publishing such a pamphlet according to the Indian Press
Act 1931. Hence prosecution has been initiated against Keshavan Menon.
Initially, the case was heard by the trial court where it was decided that this
case includes a question of law, so it must be dealt with by the High Court.
Meanwhile, the Constitution of India came into existence on 26th January 1950.
To this, the petitioner submitted a written statement stating that Section 2(6)
which defines the new sheet, that and Section 15 and 18 of the Indian Press Act,
1931 were ultra vires and also infringes Article 19(1)(a) and Article 13 of the
Constitution. Therefore accordingly the hearing of the case did not go further
until the High Court of Bombay had looked into this.
On 7th March 1950, in addition to this, another petition was filed in the High
Court of Bombay through Article 1950 of the Indian Constitution. The petitioner
prayed that Section 15 and 18 of the Indian Press Act 1931 must be declared void
and should be read with Section 2(6) and 10 which creates a liability for
restrictive measures for citizens. The reason given behind these sections was
that these sections were ultra-vires of Article 19(1)(a) and on 23rd March 1950,
the charge was framed by the Chief Presidency Magistrate.
The HC of Bombay, in this case, held that the term 'void' in Article 13(1) of
the Indian Constitution refers to the meaning 'repealed', and this attracts S.6
of General Clauses Act along with that of the Constitution's Article 367. The
court said that the proceedings which took place before the advent of the Indian
Constitution will not be affected. The petition, as filed by the petitioner, was
The decision was taken by the HC of Bombay in favor of the respondents and an
appeal to the same was filed in the Supreme Court of India. The SC upheld the
decision taken by the HC of Bombay and gave a judgment in favor of the
respondents once again. The court interpreted Article 13 and held that a law can
be held void only to the extent of its inconsistency. All laws will have a
prospective effect until and unless it is made retrospective expressly. The
language of this Article doesn't permit retrospective effect and doesn't declare
such laws to be void ab initio.
So, as the fundamental rights got introduced with the Constitution, the
pre-existing laws will be (to the required extent) void from that date i.e. 26th
January 1950; not before. But this doesn't imply that a person will not be
prosecuted or punished for any offense done before the advent of the
Constitution. In this case, it was held that at the time of the offense, the
appellant didn't have the right of freedom of speech [Article 19(1) (a)]. Hence,
Article 13 was held to not be applicable in this case.
When there is an Interlocutory Order
Interlocutory orders can be termed temporary injunctions. Generally, these
orders are avoided by the courts, but such actions are taken when a question of
law is answered by an appellate court before the proceeding or to prevent
irreparable harm from occurring to a person or property during the pendency of a
lawsuit or proceeding. These actions are only taken when the case is serious.
Indian Enviro Legal Council v. Union of India, 1996Facts
In this case, an environmental association called the Indian Council for
Environmental Legal Action lodged a writ petition where the issue was related to
the pollution caused by the industries to the village, Bichhri Village, which
was occupied by chemical industries plants.
The fourth defendant Hindustan Agro Chemicals Limited in 1987, was manufacturing
a concentrated type of sulphuric acid called oleum together with a single
super-phosphate. The fifth respondent TataSilver Chemicals began the
manufacturing of 'H' acid within the very same area.
The eighth respondent Jyoti
chemicals was situated in another compound that was producing 'H' acids mostly,
along with several other toxic chemicals. other chemical industries were also
created for the production of fertilizers as well as other such chemicals which
were contributing in some or other way towards pollution. All the defendants, in
this case, were generating hazardous waste discharge in this specific region,
which was not even being adequately treated by these industrial plants.
Accordingly, a report was submitted which stated that about 2,500 tons of
extremely poisonous sludge being generated along with that approximately 375
tons of 'H' acid were also being manufactured that for export business without
any proper treatment done to the waste materials a .which were being dumped in
the village region.
After a thorough observation of the facts the judges provided their decision.
Judges ruled that the industries will have to deposit the penalty, as ordered by
the Court in its judgment dated 11 April 1997, which amounts to Rs. 37,385,000
together with a compound interest of 12 percent per annum. But since 1997, the
respondents have intentionally failed to comply with the court's direction.
to this act, residents of the village were affected as there were no corrective
measures taken. The respondents continued the case for fifteen years by
submitting interlocutory requests. an and this the respondents were directed by
the court to pay the litigation fees as their actions resulted in wasting of the
court's money and resources.
Regarding the interlocutory applications, the court
ordered the respondent industries to pay a sum of Rs.10,00,000. It was also
mentioned that this sum of money will be used for performing corrective actions
around the Bichhri village and neighboring regions within the Udaipur district,