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Principle Of Resjudicata Under Civil Procedure Code, 1908

Section 11 of the civil procedure code, 1908 states the principle of Res Judicata. The principle of Res Judicata bars the subsequent suits by the same parties to prevent multiplicity of litigations. The article contains brief history and the applicability of the principle of Res Judicata.

The principle of Res Judicata has very ancient history. The concept of Res Judicata is evolved from the English common law system. In English common law system the principle of Res Judicata has been derived from the overriding concept of three main parts they are:
  1. Judicial economy,
  2. Consistency,
  3. Finality.
In the ancient Hindu period the concept of Res Judicata was known as "Purva Nyaya"[1] which means former judgment named by the Hindu lawyers and Mohammedan jurists. The rule was accepted by European continent and many common wealth countries as this concept clearly means that one suit and judgment are enough for any dispute.

In the constitution of the United States of America this concept has been amended by the 17thamendment.

The concept of Res Judicata has put a stop on same suits to be tried twice. As there is increase in the volume of judicial work the need to limit the litigants for a single dispute is necessary. The main objective to set this concept was to put an end to litigation.

What Does Res Judicata Mean?

Res Judicata is a Latin term which means that "the thing has been judged" or a thing adjudged. It is also known as claim preclusion. In simple terms Res Judicata means the matter/ thing which have been already judged by the court.

The concept is applicable to:
  1. Civil,
  2. Criminal,
  3. Execution Proceedings,
  4. Arbitration Proceedings,
  5. Taxation Matters,
  6. Administrative Orders,
  7. Writ Petitions,
  8. Interim Orders.

The concept of Res Judicata bars the subsequent suit when the former suit is decided.

Res Judicata is defined under section 11 of the civil procedure code, 1908 as, No court shall try a suit or an issue in which a matter is directly or substantially in issue in a former suit between the same parties, litigating under the same title in a court which is competent to try subsequent suit has been heard and decided by such court.

For example, a person named Arjun is under possession of a property, his cousin brother whose name is Varun claims half of this particular property to be of his property (Varun's). For this dispute Arjun files a suit and pleads that this property is inherited by him from his father the competent court decides the case in favour of Arjun. Enraged by this, Varun files a suit against Arjun under same cause of action. The suit filed by Varun will be barred by the court by application of Res Judicata.

The principle of Res Judicata was best explained in the case of Satyadhyan Ghosal v. Deorjin Debi[2]. It was held that the principle of Res Judicata is based on the finality of the judgment. Res means subject matter where as, Judicata means judged. It clearly puts an end to the subsequent litigation.

Essentials Of Res Judicata:

In the case of Sheodan Singh Vs. Daryao Kunwar[3], the plaintiff filed a suit for possession of a property against her brothers-in-law based on the will of her father-in-law. However, the will was declared as premature and the suit was dismissed. Plaintiff filed subsequent suit and the trial court granted the decree of possession.

The defendants filed an appeal and the advocate on behalf of defendants argued that the second suit is barred by the principle of Res Judicata. The court stated some certain requirements to be met for a case to be barred by the principle of Res Judicata they are as follows:
  1. Two suits must be present in which the former suit is decided and subsequent suit is in issue,
  2. Same parties or their representatives:
    It means that the parties to suit[4] must be same in both former suit and subsequent suit which is in issue,
  3. The cause of action must be same,
  4. The title of suit must be same,
  5. The court in which the former suit was tried must be competent[5],
  6. The former suit must be decided.

Nature And Scope Of Res Judicata:

The principle of Res Judicata was developed in larger interest of public so that there should be an end to a litigation this was specified in the case of Lal Chattel Vs. Radha Krishan[6]. To prevent multiplicity of the suits on the same cause so that no part can be harassed by the other party and threatened again for the same cause of action.

The principle of Res Judicata is based upon three Latin maxims:
  1. Interest Reipublicae Ut Sit Finis Litium:
    It Means That, It Is In The Interest Of The State That There Should Be An End To Litigation.
  2. Nemo Debet Bis Vexari Pro Una Et Eadem Causa:
    It Means That, No Man Should Be Vexed For The Same Reason Twice. This Maxim Indicates The Private Justice.
  3. Res Judicata Pro Veritate Occipitur:
    It Means That, A Judicial Descision Must Be Accepted As Correct. In Case Where, There Is A Conflict In Judgment Then It Leads To Embarrassment Of Judiciary.

Kinds Of Res Judicata:

There are two kinds of Res Judicata they are:
  1. Actual Res Judicata
  2. Constructive Res Judicata
Actual Res Judicata
It means that, if a suit filed for a cause of action and the dispute is resolved or judged by the competent court within its jurisdiction limits then the subsequent suit filed for the same cause of action is barred by the principle of Res Judicata.

Constructive Res Judicata:
It helps in rasing the bar. Constructive Res Judicata means that if a plea have been taken in the former proceeding by either of the parties, and they failed to do so they are not permitted to take the same plea against the same party in the subsequent proceeding. It it was not adopted then it would materially affect the judicial decisions.

The principle of Constructive Res Judicata was best explained in the case of Workmen Vs. Board of Trustees, Cochin Port Trust[7] as that if any matter or an issue which has been directly or explicitly decided by the court the decision operates as the principle of Res Judicata and bars the trial which is subsequent by the same parties for the same cause of action.

Examples 1:
If a person named Ram sues Ankit for the possession of property on the basis of ownership and the suit is dismissed. Here, Ram cannot claim the possession of property as mortgagee as he should have taken such plea in the former suit. Therefore the subsequent suit is barred by the principle of Constructive Res Judicata.

In the case of State of Uttar Pradesh Vs. Nawab Hussain[8], M was sub inspector and he was dismissed from the service of D.I.G. later he filed a petition on dismissal and the court dismissed this case. Subsequently he filed a suit, in which he argued that he was appointed by the I.G and no one had the power to dismiss him. The defendant argued this is barred by the principle of Rees Judicata and the court held the same.

Exceptions To Res Judicata:

However, the principle of Res Judicata does not resctricts appeals.

There are certain exceptions to Res Judicata they are:
  1. When judgment in original suit is obtained by fraud- when the fraud is proved in the court of law the principle is not applicable.
  2. When previous special leave petition is dismissed- if the special leave petition is dismissed the principle does not apply.
  3. When cause of action is different- if the cause of action is different from the former suit.
  4. When there is interlocutory order- when an interim order is passed by the court the principle does not apply as there is no finality in decision.
  5. Non competency of court- when the court which decides former suit is not competent the principle does not apply.
  6. When law changes- as new laws bring new rights to the parties such are not barred by the principle under section 11 cpc.

  • In Jallur Venkata Seshayya v. Thadviconda Koteswara Rao[9] case there was a gross negligence on the part of plaintiff and the case was dismissed, the court held that the principle of Res Judicata does not apply.
  • In Beliram and Brothers v. Chaudari Mohammed Afzal[10], a case was brought by a minor but not by the guardian and the court held that section 11 of cpc is modified by the section 44 of the evidence law and the principle of Res Judicata does not apply.


It can also be applied to judgment contrary to the law.

For example if a suit is dismissed in the court of law under certain ground it may be later considered as the dismissal is not the finality of the judgment and Res judicata does not applies to it.

The principle of Res Judicata does not apply to public interest litigations. There are certain grounds of excpetions which cannot be barred by section 11 of cpc.

In cases of fraud and collusion with reference to section 44 of the Indian evidence act, 1872 the doctrine is not applicable. It also has some advantages with disadvantages.

  • Code of civil procedure by C.K.Takwani
  1. Code of civil procedure, 1908,
  2. Indian evidence act, 1872,
Websites: End-Notes:
  1. Previous judgment in Hinduism
  2. AIR 1960 SC 941: (1960) 3 SCR 590
  3. AIR 1966 SC 1332
  4. Plaintiff and defendant as stated under order 1
  5. Under proper jurisdiction as specified under section 9
  6. (1977) 2 SCC 88: AIR 1977 SC 789
  7. (1978) 3 SCC 119: AIR 1978 SC 1283
  8. AIR 1977 SC 1680
  9. (1937) 39 BOMLR 317
  10. (1948) 50 BOMLR 674

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