By: Vinay Tyagi
Section 11 of CPC,1908 embodies the principle of Res Judicata or the rule of finality of the Judgment, decided earlier in the former suit on the same cause of action between the same parties. It enacts that a case is decided by a competent court cannot be reopened again and again in the same court or in co-current court.
The principle of res judicata is an ancient doctrine. Under the Roman Law, it was known as ex-caption res judicata which signifies the former judgment. It was the oldest doctrine in the Legal System of the world. Res judicata pro veritate accipitur is the maxim for the principle res judicata. The principle of res judicata is adopted by Indian Legal System from the common law. Res Judicata was inserted and is defined in Section 11 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908.
The doctrine of Res Judicata is based on three maxims:
- Nemo debet lis vexari pro eadem causa
It means that a person cannot be vexed and harassed again and again for a similar issue.
- Interest republicae ut sit finis litium
It means that in the interest of state there should be an end to litigation.
- Res judicata pro veritate accipitur
The maxim states that the adjudication of the court must be true and correct.
Object of Res Judicata
Res judicata pro veritate accipitur is the maxim for res judicata. Section 11 of CPC is not exhaustive the doctrine of res judicata. Section 11 of Civil Procedure Code, 1908 considered two main objectives, one that the decision of the court is final the other one is that no individual will be vexed, annoyed twice for the similar cause. (Gulam Abbas vs State of UP, AIR 1981 SC)
In Halsbury’s Laws of England, the following observation regarding the doctrine Res Judicata is stated:
“Res judicata is a worldwide law pervade the system of jurisprudence and consolidate in different maxims of the universal law: one for the public necessities which makes it to the interest of the state that there should be an end to the litigation, and that no man should be annoyed again for the similar issue.”
Conditions for the applicability of Res Judicata
- There must be former suit and other subsequent suits.
- The prior suit must be resolute by the competent court.
- The issues must be the same between the same parties.
- Parties must litigate under the same title.
- The parties to the suit and the parties who claim and under whom any of them claim must be the same.
The doctrine is based on the need of giving final judgment, what it says is that once a matter decided, it shall not be adjudicated again. It applies between the former suit and subsequent suit when the cause of action has been decided between the parties in former suit and no appeal lies, parties will be permitted for subsequent suit or proceedings between the same parties. (Satyadham Ghoshal vs Deorajin Debi, AIR 1960 SC 941)
Exception to the Plea of Res Judicata
- If the court thinks that the judgment of prior suit is obtained by fraud, then the doctrine of Res Judicata will not be applied.
- Section 11 will not be applied when there is a different cause of action between the parties in the subsequent suit.
- When the court was not competent to decide the former suit, then Res Judicta will not be applied.
- Wavier the right of Res Judicata.
Res Judicata between Co-Defendants:
An adjudication will operate between the co-defendants if the following conditions are satisfied:
- There must be a conflict of interest between the co-defendants.
- It is necessary to decide that conflict in order to give relief.
- The question must have been decided finally between the co-defendants.
- There must be a necessary and proper party in the former suit. (Munni bibi vs Triloki Nath, AIR 1931 PC)
Disadvantages of the principle of Res Judicata
- Res judicata is not applied in appeals
- Res judicata is applied to the Judgment which is contrary to Law
- Res judicata prohibits the process of delivery of justice.
Important Case Laws
- P. Moideen Koya v. Government of Kerala, AIR 2004 SC 4733
- Satyadhyan Ghoshal v. Deorajin Devi, AIR 1960 SC 941; (1960) 3 SCR 590
- Escorts Farms v. Commissioner, AIR 2004 SC 2186
- Lal Chand v. Radhda Krishna, AIR1977 SC 789
- Jaswant Singh v. Custodian of Evacuee Property, 1985 SC 648
- Management of Indian Aluminium Co. Ltd. v. Nagiahi, 2009 (3) Kant LJ 184