Res judicata doctrine

Res judicata doctrine

Res judicata

Court shall not try any subsequent suit in which the disputed matter directly in issue has been directly in issue in a former suit, between the same parties.

Once an issue or dispute has been finally decided by a court in any previous suit, the same issue or dispute shall not be subsequently heard by the court in a subsequent suit by the same parties. This rule is called as ‘Res judicata’.

Sec.11 CPC postulates the principles of Res judicata.

It is a Latin term, which means –

‘res’ = matter (dispute);

‘judicata’ = judged or already decided;

This may be pronounced as ‘rez judi-cot-ah

This term postulates the doctrine that ‘once the matter is decided, it is finally decided.’

The Supreme Court laid the law that orders passed by the Tribunal which had no jurisdiction to pass such orders were nullities and no question of res judicata would arise in connection with such orders of an incompetent authority.

Bar to further suit:

Certain Rules in CPC, prevent a plaintiff from instituting a ‘further suit’ (subsequent suit) in respect of the ‘same cause of action’. Sec.12 CPC restricts a plaintiff to file another suit (fresh suit) on the same cause of action.

But the principle of res judicata is different. It does not bar the subsequent suit, but it specifically barred in deciding the issue (or disputed point) which has been already decided in the same suit or in any previous suit between the same parties.

Stay of suit:

If there are two suits pending between the same parties and the issues are the same in both suits, the subsequent suit (later suit) shall be stayed by the court, pending the disposal of the earlier suit.

Sec.10 of CPC postulates this principle of ‘stay of the subsequently instituted suit.’

This principle of ‘stay of suit’ does not apply to a case pending in a foreign court between the same parties. (this rule applies only among the two suits pending in Indian Courts between the same parties.)

In short:

Sec.10 (Stay of suit) when there are two suits pending (between the same parties);

Sec.11 (Res judicata) when an issue (dispute) was already decided, it cannot be taken back (between the same parties); Any final judgment (decision) is a ‘conclusive one’ and it cannot be re-agitated.

Sec.12 (Bar of further suit) the plaintiff is legally barred to file another fresh suit on the same cause of action, when he already filed a suit on the same cause of action and it was decided or dismissed or withdrawn (not in all times, but in certain situation, a subsequent suit is barred as per the Rules of CPC).

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