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Relevancy Of Judgement

Judgement is a decision of a court regarding the rights and liabilities of parties in a legal action or proceeding. Judgements also generally provide the court's explanation of why it has chosen to make a particular court order. Sec 2 (9) of CPC defines judgement, as the statement given by the judge of the grounds of a decree or order.

The general rule is that a judgement whether previous or subsequent is not relevant to a case or a proceeding. Because each case must be decided on its own facts and merits. Sec 40 to 42 and 44 provide some exceptions to this general rule.

Chapter II and sec 40 to 44 of IEA tells when a judgement is relevant.

Judgment is of two types:

  • 1. Judgement in rem:
  • When a judgment is given on a particular subject matter, it will not only remain between the two parties but also be applicable to the entire world.
  • 2. Judgement in personam:
  • When a judgment is given on a subject matter, it will remain between the parties. It means the judgment will be against an individual.

Relevancy in points:

  1. Section 40 � (Res judicata)
  2. Section 41 � (Being in rem)
  3. Section 42 � (Relating matters of public nature)
  4. Section 43 � (Irrelevancy with two exceptions)
  5. Section 44 � (Irrelevancy if the judgment is passed by the incompetent court, fraud, or collusion)

Sections of the Civil Procedure Code

1. Section 40

  1. It says that when a judgment, order, or decree
  2. is already given
  3. and if the law prevents any court from
  4. taking cognizance of such suit or holding a trial
  5. on such judgment, order, or decree
  6. Then the same is relevant.
Section 11 of the Civil Procedure Code embodies the rule of Res Judicata which bars or restrains the repetition of suit or litigation of the same issue and of the same parties. Similarly, Article 20(2) of the Constitution of India and Section 300 of CRPC provide for the principle of Double jeopardy, which means that a person must not be punished twice for the offense. The object of sec 40 is to avoid multiplicity of suits and to save the precious time of the court. Under sec 40 judgments are judgments in personam and conclusive. For instance, 'x' and 'y' are two parties, 'x' sues 'y' for fraud and the court has decided the case in favor of 'y' but later 'x' again filed a suit against 'y' for the same case. So it was said that once the judgment was given by a court over a particular subject matter then that court has a right to bar the trial of the case and here Section 40 applies. In Adi Pherozshah Gandhi v H. M. Seervai, it was held that in a civil proceeding, the decision of a criminal court is not res judicata.

2. Section 41

  1. When a final judgment, order, or decree
  2. Is already given by a competent court in relation to
  3. Probate, matrimonial, admiralty, or insolvency jurisdiction
  4. Which confers legal character, takes away legal character, declares entitlement of such character, declares entitlement of specific things absolutely
  5. The same relevant and such judgment is judgment in rem and conclusive proof.
Kinds of jurisdiction:
  1. Probate jurisdiction: it provides for the establishment of a will and when the probate is granted, it establishes the legal character of the person.
  2. Matrimonial jurisdiction: the judgment of the matrimonial court is generally regarding the marriage cases for saying divorce or nullity of marriage and the same is considered as a judgment in Rem.
  3. Admiralty jurisdiction: the matters related to shipping or cargo of a ship or other matter related to maritime go to the High court, and any judgment related to admiralty jurisdiction shall be conclusive proof.
  4. Insolvency jurisdiction: the power of the Member State within the territory of which the center of the debtor's main interests is situated shall have jurisdiction to open insolvency proceedings.

3. Section 42

Judgments, orders, or decrees other than those mentioned under sec 41 are relevant if they are related to matters of public nature. But such judgments, orders, or decrees are not conclusive proof but a piece of evidence. Illustration: A sues B for trespass on his land. B alleges the existence of a public right of way over the land, which A denies. The existence of a decree in favor of the defendant in a suit by A against C for trespass on the same land, in which C alleged the existence of the same way, is relevant but it is not conclusive proof that the right of way exists. Case law: In Umaswamy v. Appalu, where the trustee of the temple obtained a decree against certain landowners for recovering certain amounts due to the temple on the alleged right and it was held that in other suits against other landowners in which the trustee claimed under the same right, the previous decree is relevant as they were a matter of public nature.

4. Section 43

It has two parts. The first part says - Judgment, order, or decree other than those mentioned in section 40, 41, and 42 are irrelevant. Illustration:
  1. A prosecutes B for stealing a cow from him. B is convicted. A afterwards sues C for the cow, which B had sold to him before his conviction. As between A and C, the judgment against B is irrelevant.
  2. A prosecutes B for adultery with C, A's wife. B denies that C is A's wife, but the Court convicts B of adultery. Afterwards, C is prosecuted for bigamy in marrying B during A's lifetime. C says that she never was A's wife. The judgment against B is irrelevant as against C.

The second part says- if the judgement, order or decree does not fall under sec 40, 41 or 42 but the judgment itself is a fact-in-issue or is relevant under some other provisions of the Act, then it will be relevant.

  1. A has obtained a decree for the possession of land against B. C, B's son, murders A in consequence. The existence of the judgment is relevant, as showing motive for a crime.
  2. A is charged with theft and with having been previously convicted of theft. The previous conviction is relevant as a fact in issue.
  3. Sec 44

There is a general rule of Res Judicata that no parties shall raise the similar issue before the same court which the court has already decided, however, there is an exception to this rule provided under section 44 of the Indian evidence act which states that the judgment, order or decree made:
  1. By the incompetent court
  2. Was obtained by way of fraud
  3. Was obtained by collusion

Then the party who is affected by such judgment may file suit for the annulment of the case only when the same is proved by the adverse party. The principle of sec 44 cannot be extended to other grounds like misrepresentation, undue influence, negligence or mistake.

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