Section 11 – Res Judicata
Under Section 11 of the Civil Procedural Code, 1908 (hereinafter CPC), Res Judicata denotes ‘a thing decided’, to avoid repetitive filing of the same decided dispute/matter again and again, a cap/bar has been provided by virtue of Res Judicata.
“One decision is enough for a dispute”, is the main force behind the doctrine of Res Judicata and also to respect the decision to a judgment passed by a competent court as well as to avoid repetition of unnecessary litigations.
Satyadhyan Ghosal And Others V/s Sm. Deorajin Debi And Another (1960) AIR 941
The Hon’ble Supreme Court has reiterated these principles;
- Doctrine of Res Judicata is also known as Rule of conclusiveness of judgment/finality of judgment.
- Based on justice, equity and good conscience.
- Public Policy.
- Multiple suits are being barred by this doctrine.
Duchess of Kingston;
A judgment of a court of a concurrent jurisdiction given in the matter on the same matter/parties, it bars a similar subsequent suit, hence the decision must be given conclusiveness.
This decision was affirmed in the case of Daryao and Ors. V/s State of U.P. and Ors. (1961) AIR 1457
The doctrine of Res Judicata is based on three maxims;
- “nemo debet bis vexari pro una et eadem causa”
- No man should be vexed twice over the same issue
- Similar to Article 20(ii) of the Constitution of India
- Looks in the interest of the litigation/litigants.
- “interst reipublicae ut sit finis litium”
- It concerns the state, that there be an end to law suits/litigation.
- For the interest of the litigation and society at large.
- “Res judicata pro veritate accipitur”
- A thing adjudged must be taken as truth, is the full maxim which has over the years shrunk to mere “res judicata” [Kunjun Nair Sivaraman Nair V/s. Narayanan Nair (2004) 3 SCC 277]
- A judicial decision must be accepted as ‘correct and final’, judgment.
- The doctrine is set to imply in having faith on the judiciary/courts and also have reliance upon it in matters to seek justice.
Essentials of Res Judicata
- Matter must be directly or substantially in issue
- Must be between same parties
- There must be a former suit which has been decided
- Matter must be decided by a competent court, i.e. competent court must provide for the judgment to be relied upon.
- The subject matter must be heard and finally decided upon in the prior suit.
Explanations under section 11 CPC;
- Explanation I Section 11 provides that it is not the date on which the suit is filed that matters but the date on which the suit is decided, so that even if a suit was filed later, it will be a former suit within the meaning of Explanation I if it has been decided earlier.
- Explanation II Explanation II to Section 11 makes it clear that for the purpose of res judicata, the competence of the court shall be determined irrespective of any provision as to right to appeal from the decision of such court. The question whether there is a bar of res judicata does not depend on the existence of a right of appeal but on the question whether the same issue, under the circumstances mentioned in section 11, has been heard and finally decided.
- Explanation III According to Explanation III, a matter is actually in issue when it is alleged by one party and denied or admitted by other, expressly or impliedly, i.e. it must be a fact in issue. In the case of Isher Singh V/s. Sarwan Singh AIR 1965 SC 948, the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that, whether the matter materially affects the suit in question, there is no pigeon hole formula. The court shall decide.
- Explanation IV Also known as ‘constructive res judicata’, it is constructively in issue when it might or ought to have been made a ground of attack or defence at the time of the previous suit. ‘Ought’ compels the party to take such grounds. The word ‘and’ is to be read conjunctively. Unless it is proved that the matter might and ought to have been raised in the previous litigation, there is no ‘constructive res judicata’.
- Explanation V Any such relief which had been claimed in the plaint of the previous/former suit, but upon which a decree had not been expressly provided, shall be deemed to have been refused/denied.
- Explanation VI Explanation VI to section 11 of the CPC, deals with representative suits, i.e. suits instituted by or against a person in his representative, as distinguished from individual capacity. It provides that when persons litigate bonafide in respect of a public right or of a private right claimed in common for themselves and others, and all persons interested in such right shall, for the purposes of section 11 CPC, be deemed to claim under the persons so litigating.
- Explanation VII Prior to the addition of the Explanation VII to section 11 CPC, the provision did not in terms apply to execution proceedings, but the general principles of res judicata were held to be applicable even to execution proceedings. After the amendment Act of 104 of 1976, Explanation VII provides that provisions of section 11 will directly apply to execution proceedings also.
- Explanation VIII Explanation VIII to section 11 CPC, declares that res judicata will apply to a subsequent suit even when the court which decided the former suit is not competent to try the subsequent one, provided that it was competent to try the former suit, wherein the decision was given.