Res Judicata

Res Judicata

Meaning:

Res Judicata is the Latin term for “a matter already judged” and refers to the legal doctrine which prohibits the continued litigation of cases, between the same parties, which have already heard and finally decided by a competent court.

The Indian Legal system adopted the doctrine of Res-Judicata from the common law. The principle of res-judicata is included in Section 11 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908. After the Civil Procedure Code, Administrative Law has accepted the applicability of the res-judicata. After that, it was accepted by other statutes and acts and the doctrine of res-judicata started growing in the Indian Legal System.

The doctrine of Res-Judicata is based on various Latin maxims but the three maxims which are most important to the doctrine are as follows:

Nemo Debet Lis Vaxari Pro Eadem Causa: which means no person should be vexed annoyed, harassed, or vexed twice for the same cause.

Interest Republicae Ut Sit Finis Litium: which means it is in the interest of the State that there should be an end to litigation.

Res Judicata Pro Veritate Occipitur which means a judicial decision must be accepted as correct.

Res Judicata under Code of Civil Procedure, 1908:

Section 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 deals with the doctrine of Res Judicata. It states that once a matter is finally decided by a competent Court, no party should be permitted to reopen the same matter in subsequent litigation. It was realized that in the absence of the principle of Res Judicata, there will be no end to litigation and the parties would be put through constant trouble, harassment, and expenses.

Section 11 says that no court shall try any suit or issue in which the matter directly and substantially in issue has been 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.”

The definition given in Section 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 is backed by 8 explanations. Some of the important explanations are as follows:

  1. Explanation 1 states that a former suit means a suit which has been decided by a court before the suit in question. It is immaterial whether or not such a former suit was instituted after the current suit in question.
  2. Explanation 3 states that the matter in the current suit just the same as the matter in the previous suit. It is necessary that such matter was alleged by one party in the previous suit and was either denied or admitted, impliedly or expressly, by the other party.
  3. Explanation 4 states that any matter which was made a ground of defense or attack in the previous suit will be considered to be a matter directly or substantially in issue in the current suit.
  4. Explanation 8 states that a matter which was heard and finally decided by a court having limited jurisdiction but competent to decide such issue will operate as res-judicata notwithstanding whether or not such court was competent to try the subsequent suits or issues which were subsequently raised.

Essentials of Res-Judicata under Section 11 CPC:

The following conditions should be satisfied before granting a decree of Red-Judicata:

  1. There must be two suits one former (previously decided) suit and the other subsequent suit.
  2. Parties of the former and subsequent suit or the parties under whom they or any of them claim should be the same.
  3. The subject matter of the subsequent suit should be identical or related to the former suit either actually or constructively.
  4. The case must be finally decided between the parties.
  5. The former suit should be decided by the court of competent jurisdictions.
  6. Parties in the former as well as in subsequent suit must have litigated under the same title.

Conclusion:

The doctrine of Res Judicata has become an important part of the Indian Legal System.  Section 11 of Civil Procedure Court, 1908 states that the Court can apply Res Judicata when the court thinks that matter is already decided by the former suit. This doctrine is not only applied to the Civil courts but also to the administrative law and other legislation in India. The doctrine of Res Judicata is to prevent multiple judgments and protects the rights of the other party by restricting the plaintiff to recover the damages twice from the defendant on the same injury.

-Niyti Jangra

Associate at Law Offices of Kr.Vivek Tanwar Advocate & Associates

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