Doctrine Of Res Judicata And Res Sub Judice

Res sub judice and res judicata are two important principles of civil procedure code.  Res sub judice means 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 and that the court in which the previous suit is pending is competent to grant relief claimed. Res judicata relates to matter already adjudicated upon. It bars the subsequent trial of a suit or an issue which has already been adjudicated upon in a previous suit.

Res Sub Judice

“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.”[1]

Read – Understanding Ratio Decidendi and Obiter Dicta

The object of Section 10 is to prevent competent courts from simultaneously entertaining two parallel litigations in respect of the same cause of action, the same subject matter and the same relief. The aim of law is to confine a plaintiff to one litigation, thus obviating the possibility of two contradictory verdicts by one and the same court in respect of the same relief. This section intends to protect a person from multiplicity of proceeding and to avoid a conflict of decision.

Following condition must be satisfied for the application of section 10-

1) There must be two suits, one previously decided by competent court and the other subsequently instituted.

2) The matter in issue in the subsequent suits must be directly and substantially is issue in the previous suits.

3) The parties must be same in previous or in subsequent suit.

4) The previously instituted suits must be pending in the same code in which the subsequent suit is brought.

5) The court in which the previous suit is instituted must be competent to grant the relief claimed in the subsequent suit.

6) Such parties must be litigating under the same title in both the suits.

Explanation to section 10 provides that there is no bar on the power of an Indian court to try a subsequent plea instituted suit if the previously instituted suit is pending in foreign court.[2]

Res Judicata

Section 11 of the civil procedure code describes the doctrine of res judicata or the rule of conclusiveness of a judgment, as to the points decided either of fact, or of law, or of fact and law, in every subsequent suit between the same parties.[3] It enacts that once a matter in finally decided by a competent court, no party can be permitted to reopen it in a subsequent litigation.  In the absence of such rule there will be no end to litigation and the parties would be put to constant trouble, harassment and expenses.

The doctrine of res judicata was explained in the landmark case of Satyadhyan Ghosal v. Deorjin Debi as- “The principle of res judicata is based on the need of giving 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 on 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. “[4]

Res means ‘subject matter’ and judicata means ‘adjudged’. Thus “ Res Judicata” means  a matter adjudged.

The doctrine of res judicata is constructed  on three maxims –

(a) nemo debit bis vexari pro una et eadem causa ( no man should be vexed twice for the same cause)

(b) interest reipublicae sit finis litium ( it is in the interest of state that there should be an end to a litigation)

(c) res judicata pro veritate occiputir (a judicial decision must be accepted as correct).

The principle is also founded on justice, equity and good conscience which require that the party who was successful on one issue should not be harassed by multiplicity of proceedings involving the same issue.

Read – PER INCURIAM And The Importance Of Dissenting Judgments

[1] Sec 10 of Civil Procedure Code.

[2] Explanation to section 10.

[3] C.K Takwani, Civil Procedure Code.

[4] Satyadhyan Ghosal v. Deorjin Debi AIR 1960 SC 941: (1960) 3 SCR 590.

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Vaishali Phull

Content Writer, Law Corner, Student of BBA LLB, 3rd Year, Sharda University

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