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  • Ansuman Barik

RES JUDICATA AND ITS APPLICATION

Name- Ansuman Barik,

College - Christ Deemed to be University, Bangalore

RES JUDICATA AND ITS APPLICATION

INTRODUCTION

The Latin phrase "Res Judicata" comes from the words "Judicata," which means judged, and "Res," which means affairs or matters. Collectively, they mean that the parties involved are bound by the court's ruling once a matter has been brought before a court of competent jurisdiction and resolved on its merits. The Doctrine of Res Judicata allows the court to dismiss a case if the same facts, laws, and parties are attempted to be brought before it again. This idea came from the English Common Law system and was later adopted by the Indian legal system after being included in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.

Section 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 tells about the Doctrine of Res Judicata. It defines that once the court has decided on a particular matter, parties to the matter will not be allowed to litigate the same matter again in the same court with the same facts, laws and evidence. This rule was incorporated for public interest and to reduce the burden of the judiciary. Otherwise, in the absence of such rules there may be no end to litigation and the parties may be put to constant harassment, troubles and expenses and the court will waste its time and resources.

The doctrine of Res Judicata is based on three Roman maxims:

(a) Nemo debet lis vaxari pro eadem causa: One should not be vexed (annoyed) twice for the same cause.

(b) Interest republicae ut sit finis litium: This phrase indicates that it is in the state's best interest to put a lawsuit to rest; and

(c) Re judicata pro veritate occipitur: This indicates that a judge's ruling has to be regarded as final.

For example- If A had an accident with B and B suffered damages due to the negligent driving of A. B filed a suit against A to claim damages of Rs 2 Lakhs. Thereafter, the court also finds that because of A’s negligence this accident occured and finally came to award Rs 75000 as damages. B was not satisfied with the verdict. So, he approached a different court having the same jurisdiction to claim the same amount of damages. Here, the principle of res judicata will be invoked and the suit will be barred from being entertained.

ESSENTIALS FOR RES JUDICATA

The court in order to arrive at a decision to dismiss a case based on res judicata has to look after the essentials that are as follows:

1) A verdict must be rendered.

2) The merits must be the foundation for the decision.

3) The same claims must be made in later lawsuits.

4) The parties to the second lawsuit have to be the same as those in the first, or they have to have been represented by a former litigant.

Each of these essentials need to be diligently taken care of, before invoking the rule of res judicata.

NATURE AND SCOPE OF RES JUDICATA

Res Judicata involves two concepts: claim preclusion and issue preclusion. Claim preclusion is also known as res judicata. It means parties cannot sue each other after the final judgement has been delivered based on merits. For example, if A wins or loses a case against B then A cannot sue B for the same case again with the same facts and events even in another court. Whereas in issue preclusion it prohibits the relitigation of issues of law that have already been determined by the judge as part of an earlier case. For example, if A had an accident with B and B suffered damages due to the negligent driving of A. B filed a suit against A to claim damages of Rs 2 Lakhs. Thereafter, the court also finds that because of A’s negligence this accident occured and finally awarded Rs 75000 as damages to B. B was not satisfied with the verdict. So, he approached a different court having the same jurisdiction to claim the same amount of damages. Here, the rule of issue preclusion will be brought in because the same case has been already decided by another judge based on merits.

The Gulam Abbas v. State of Uttar Pradesh case established the scope. The rules were cited by the court in this instance to support a point that had already been made in a prior case. The judges' application of the res judicata principle made the decision difficult. The ruling came to the conclusion that res judicata is not all-inclusive and that, even in cases where the issue is not specifically covered by the section, it will nonetheless be handled as such on the basis of broad principles.

EXCEPTION TO RES JUDICATA

The Supreme Court has ruled three exceptions:

●     Dismissal of a claim for lack of jurisdiction

●     If the judgement has been gotten by fraud

●     Where there is a legal issue.

CONSTRUCTIVE RES JUDICATA

Section 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 gave rise to the artificial form of res judicata known as constructive res judicata. It stipulates that a party may not bring the same lawsuit against the defendant again if the party entered a plea in a proceeding against the defendant and the court has decided the matter in question. The res judicata principle is enhanced by this rule, which merely raises the bar.

The petitioner in State of Uttar Pradesh v. Nawab Hussain was a sub-inspector who was fired by the D.IG. He filed a writ in the High Court contesting his dismissal order, claiming he was not given a valid reason to be heard. The High Court dismissed this case based on its merits. He re-filed his Supreme Court petition, arguing that since the I.G.P. appointed him, the D.I.G. lacks the authority to remove him. Applying the doctrine of constructive res judicata, the Supreme Court found that the petitioner had the opportunity to make this claim during the earlier proceedings. His petition was denied in light of the constructive res judicata rule.

APPLICATION OF RES JUDICATA

PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION

Public Interest Litigation are the petitions that are filed for the benefit of the public at large. There is no concrete definition of Public Interest Litigation given in any textbook. The objective of Public Interest Litigation is to display concerns or problems of the public which are acting contrary to the fundamental rights and laws. So, it is the duty of the court to check whether the petition has inherent merit or not and apply the rule of conclusive judgement or res judicata accordingly. Previously, there was a confusion regarding the applicability of res judicata in the case of Public Interest Litigation. However, this confusion came to an end with various judgments of the Supreme Court of India. It adopted a balanced approach i.e. it neither ruled out the applicability of res judicata in public interest litigation nor allowed it in all matters which hit the interest of the public.

In the case of Forward Construction Co. v. Prabhat Mandal, The Supreme Court decided that the petitioner must demonstrate that the prior writ filed before this honorable court was legitimately filed for the public interest and did not contain any personal or private grievances, in accordance with explanation VI of res judicata.

In R.S. Keluskar v. Union of India case, In an attempt to obtain compensation for the victims of a railway accident, the petitioner filed additional petitions in the Supreme Court. Prior to filing the petition, the petitioner did not obtain the injured party's consent. Furthermore, the petitioner omitted to mention that his petition had previously been denied on the grounds of merit. The petition was dismissed under the principle of constructive res judicata after the hon’ble court took notice of the petitions and determined that the petitioner could not utilize such a significant public plea.

In State of Karnataka & Anr v. All India Organizations & Ors ,the petitioner in a public interest litigation (PIL), according to the court, is representing the interests of the broader public rather than their own personal rights. The ruling from a previous PIL is regarded as a judgement in rem, which means it is applicable to everyone, provided the litigation is legitimate. This prohibits any member of the public, provided that the issues were directly and materially addressed in prior proceedings, from bringing before the Court the same or similar issues that have already been addressed or ought to have been addressed in a prior PIL. As a result, public interest litigation is also subject to the legal doctrines of res judicata (a matter already decided) and constructive res judicata (a matter that could have been raised but was not).

With the above cases it is pertinent to note that the rule of res judicata is applicable to the cases where the same facts, issues have already been dealt and solved in a previous judgement whose impact is on the public at large not private individuals.

EXECUTION PROCEEDINGS

Explanation VII of Section 11 states that, “any reference to a lawsuit, issue, or prior lawsuit in this section should be interpreted as referring to the process of carrying out a court order, a question that arises during that process, and a prior process of carrying out the same court order. This section now applies to a process for carrying out a court order.” This depicts that not only the general rule of res judicata but also constructive judicata will be applicable in executive proceedings. However, an application by decree-holder to transfer certain papers to another Court for further execution is not an execution application and its dismissal does not bar a fresh application.

In Harnath Rai v. Hirdai Narain and Venkappa v. Lakshmikant Rao, it has been established that the principle of Constructive Res Judicata extends to various stages of the same execution petition in addition to distinct execution applications.

WRIT PETITION

The long-standing issue of whether res judicata applies to writ petitions has been resolved. However, if a petition is rejected under Art 266 of the Constitution of India then it does not put a bar on the person to seek relief under Art 32 or 136 of the Constitution of India.

In a landmark case of  Darayao v. State of UP, the Supreme Court has taken account of  different dilemmas and has come up with effective solutions. It ruled as follows:

1)Unless modified or reversed by an appeal or other suitable legal proceedings permitted by the Constitution, any petition decided on its merits under Article 266 of the Indian Constitution binds the parties concerned.

2) It is not open for the party to ignore the said judgement and move to the Supreme Court under Art 32 with the same facts and issues.

3) In the event that a High Court dismisses a petition under Article 226 not for merits but rather due to the petitioner's delay or because it was found the petitioner had an alternative remedy, the petitioner is still free to file a follow-up petition under Article 32.

4) If the petition is dismissed at the outset and a new order is issued, it may or may not prevent further action, depending on the specifics of the order. If the ruling is based solely on the merits of the case, the doctrine of Res Judicata will be applicable, barring any further petitions pertaining to the same matter.

5) Dismissing a petition in limine without any speaking orders will not bring res judicata into force.

6) The withdrawal of a petition does not bar the filing of a reopening petition under Article 32 because the court did not reach a decision on the merits of the original petition.

7) The doctrine of constructive res judicata also applies to writ proceedings. If tha party has failed to present any point which ought to have been taken but was not, then the said point cannot be taken in a subsequent proceeding.

8) However, this rule has an exception to the writ of habeas corpus. If the writ of habeas corpus gets dismissed under Art 266, then a fresh petition can be filed in the Supreme Court under Art 32.

9) The rule of res judicata can be applied to suits or proceedings at any stage.

10)A petitioner's subsequent filing on the same subject will not be allowed if they withdraw their original petition without getting the court's approval.

CONCLUSION

Considering the discussion above, it is important to remember that the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908's requirements must be met in order for the Doctrine of Res Judicata to be applicable. But before dismissing a case, the courts must exercise due diligence. If a case is being dismissed in limine, the emphasis should be on giving justification for the dismissal. In the end, this will accomplish the goal of the res judicata rule.

REFERENCES

  1. https://www.legalserviceindia.com/article/l454-Res-Judicata.html

  2. https://www.lawinsider.in/columns/an-introduction-to-res-juidicata

  3. https://www.bonalaw.com/insights/legal-resources/what-are-the-elements-of-res-judicata-claim-preclusion

  4. https://thelawcodes.com/article/res-judicata-under-cpc/#:~:text=Nature%20and%20Scope%20of%20Res,'ex%20captio%20res%20judicata'.

  5. https://www.lawinsider.in/judgment/gulam-abbas-ors-vs-state-of-u-p-ors

  6. https://ir.nbu.ac.in/bitstream/123456789/3631/1/Vol.%2010%2C%20No.%202%2C%20September%202019_19.pdf

  7. https://blog.ipleaders.in/overview-on-doctrine-of-res-judicata/#:~:text=The%20principle%20of%20res%20judicata%20applies%20when%20a%20litigant%20atte

  8. https://www.freelaw.in/legalarticles/Key-Principles-and-Applicability-of-Res-Judicata

  9.  http://www.jstor.com/stable/43950378

  10. Anuj Goyal, Concept of Res Judicata, INT'l J.L. MGMT. & HUMAN. 2265 (2023).

 

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