RES JUDICATA: In and out

Res Judicata is a principle known and heard by many but understood by few. This article will cover the inside-out picture of res judicata and help in better understanding of the topic. Res Judicata has been discussed in the procedural beauty called Civil Procedure Code, 1908. Res Judicata is a principle widely used but scarcely understood. It has been discussed under section 111 of CPC.

It is based on following two principles:

  1. Nemo debit lis vexari pro una et endem causa :- No one ought to be troubled twice for one and the same cause.
  2. Interest rei piblicae ut sit finis litium :- It is in the interest of the State that there should be an end of law suit.

Thus, the rule of Res Judicata is based on two principles, namely, there should be an end to litigation and secondly, to avoid hardships on individual.

ESSENTIALS OF RES JUDICATA

The following conditions are essential to attract the principle of Res Judicata:

  1. Matter directly and substantially in issue in the subsequent suit must have been directly and substantially in issue in the former suit.
  2. The former suit must have been between same parties or between the parties under whom they or any of them claim.
  3. Such parties must have been litigating under the same title in the former suit.
  4. The court trying the former suit must have been a court competent to try the subsequent suit.
  5. The matter directly and substantially in issue in the subsequent suit must have been heard and finally decided by the court in the first suit.

PROCEDUREAL CLARITY

  • A matter directly and substantially in issue cannot be said to have been ‘heard and finally decided’, unless the finding on the issue was necessary for the determination of the suit. A finding on an issue cannot be said to be necessary to the decision of a suit unless the decision was based upon that finding; and a decision cannot be said to have been based upon a finding unless an appeal can lie against that finding.
  • The decision in the former suit must have been on the merits of the case. If the suit has been disposed of on a technical defect in the suit, the same cannot be said to have been heard and finally decided.
  • Similarly, if a suit is dismissed for want of jurisdiction, for default of plaintiff’s appearance, on non-joinder or misjoinder of parties, for the want of cause of action or want of notice; the decision cannot be said to create the bar of registration for filing a fresh suit.
  • Marhura Prasad v/s Dossibai [AIR 1971 SC 2355], Supreme Court in this case held that where the question is one purely of law and it relates to the jurisdiction of the Court or a decision of the Court sanctioning something which is illegally resorted to, a party affected by the decision will not be precluded from challenging the validity of the order under the rule of res judicata, for rule of procedure cannot supersede the law of land.
  • If the question is purely of fact then rule of Res Judicata will apply.
  • If the question is mixed question of law and fact then rule of Res Judicata will apply
  • If the question is purely of law then:
  • If it is related to cause of action then rule of Res Judicata will apply.
  • If it is the question of jurisdiction then rule of rule of Res Judicata will not apply.

CONSTRUCTIVE RES JUDICATA [Explanation IV of Section 11]

Where the plaintiff or a defendant might or ought to have urged a question in a former litigation, he would be stopped from raising the same question in a subsequent suit either as an attack or as a defense if the other conditions of Res Judicata are satisfied.
State of U.P. v/s Nawab Hussain [AIR 1977 SC 1680], Supreme Court in this case held that if the same set of facts give rise to two or more cause of action then it would be the abuse of law if one ground is raised in first litigation and the second ground is raised in subsequent litigation.

RES JUDICATA IN EXECUTION PROCEEDINGS [Explanation VII of Section 11]

Rule of Res Judicata applies to the Execution Proceedings and the same is dealt under Explanation VII of Section 11.

Dadu Raghu Patil v/s Tukarak Hanba Dhera [AIR 1959 Bom 221], it was held in this case that the objection regarding the execution of decree can be raised at the time of execution proceedings but if the court rejects the objection and order the execution of the same then the same can be used as Res Judicata and no further objections can be raised.

RES JUDICATA BETWEEN CO-DEFENDANTS

The doctrine of res judicata should be applied to co-defendants with great caution. As between parties arrayed on the same side in the previous litigation, whether as co-plaintiffs or as codefendants, a matter can be res judicata only if in the previous suit there was a matter directly and substantially in issue between the co-plaintiffs or the co-defendants and an adjudication upon that matter was necessary to the determination of the suit. It is well suited that unless there is an active contest between the parties arrayed on the same side in the previous suit, a decision with regard to which contest is necessary for the final determination of matter in controversy in the suit, any decision given in the previous suit cannot operate as res judicata between them or between parties claiming through or under them in any subsequent suit [Bachint Kaur v/s Karam Chand, AIR 1948 Lah 195].

1 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.

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