This article has been written by Sonu pursuing Diploma in English Communication for Lawyers – oratory, writing, listening and accuracy and has been edited by Oishika Banerji (Team Lawsikho).
This article has been published by Sneha Mahawar.
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To provide a decision in any lawsuit, the legal system always resorts to certain principles, doctrines, and precedents. These theories have a significant impact on how effectively the judiciary operates and how quickly decisions are rendered. The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (CPC), which aims to guarantee efficiency and rapid procedure during hearings, has two such doctrines, namely res judicata and res subjudice, dealt with under Sections 10 and 11 respectively. This article discusses these two doctrines in detail, placing each other parallel to each other.
Definition of res judicata
“Res judicata” is a Latin proverb that means “the subject has been settled.” According to this notion, a final decision is rendered after the court has heard a case including related facts and concerns. This doctrine forbids proceeding on the same grounds and with the same parties if the matter is no longer appealable.
The following maxims form the foundation of the res judicata doctrine:
- Nemo debet lis vexari pro eadem causa: According to this maxim, “no individual gets tried again in the same sort of litigation.” It is possible to put a stop to the legal procedure in both civil and criminal lawsuits. No one may be tried and punished twice, according to Article 20(2) of the Indian Constitution.
- Interest republicae ut sit finis litium: The maxim means that as it serves the interests of the country, litigation should be put to an end.
- Re judicata pro veritate occipitur: It denotes that a court ruling must be regarded as final.
Definition of res subjudice
“Res Sub Judice” also means “under judgment.” The competent court has the jurisdiction to hold the parallel procedures of the action when parties file two or more lawsuits about the same issue. To prevent repetition and contradictory orders, the doctrine permits a suspension of proceedings.
The purpose of both doctrines have been discussed hereunder.
The concepts of justice, equity, and good conscience are the foundation of the res judicata doctrine, which is applicable to all civil and criminal matters. The doctrine’s primary goal is to limit the practice of re-litigation. The doctrine also has the following goals:
- It avoids the court from wasting time and money.
- It offers the defendant protection against harm.
- By ending a verdict and excluding any further claims, it avoids disagreement between the parties in a case that has been formally ended.
- It avoids the confusion that may result from having several judgments in a single lawsuit.
Res sub judice
The goal of the res sub judice doctrine is to prevent pointless lawsuits from taking up the court’s time. In addition to these, the ideology also has the following further goals:
- It enables the plaintiff to bring a single lawsuit against the same defendant that covers all of the problems and facts.
- Avoid having contradictory decisions on a similar matter in issue.
- Stop two parallel lawsuits with the same claim, same issue, and identical remedy from being heard and decided by courts having concurrent jurisdiction at the same time.
- Defendants should not be required to pay restitution or damages twice.
- Avoid creating misunderstandings.
The essentials of both doctrines have been discussed hereunder.
The essentials of res judicata are as follows:
- Two lawsuits should be filed: one before and one after.
- The incident has a clear and significant connection to the ongoing lawsuit.
- The parties who filed the lawsuit must be the similar parties who also filed the prior lawsuit.
- The titles of both suits must also be identical.
- Lawsuits must be brought In the appropriate courts.
- The matter that is directly and significantly at issue in the later litigation must have been heard by the court and determined previously.
Res sub judice
The following are the fundamentals of res sub judice:
- The same parties must participate in two civil lawsuits.
- The second lawsuit is brought while the first is still pending before the appropriate court for a final decision.
- The second lawsuit was likewise submitted under a title that is similar to the first one. Section 10 of the Code is not applicable to any litigation that is undergoing in a foreign court.
- The application will fall under the purview of the doctrine if it is submitted to the Tahsildar while the court case is still pending.
- The institution of the lawsuit is determined by the date the plaint was filed, and the appeal is also included in the lawsuit.
- The court must have the inherent authority to halt the current legal proceedings before it.
- Judgment rendered for a breach of Section 10 will be null and void. The parties may forego their rights under Section 10.
- The court has the authority to issue interim orders.
Differences between res judicata and res subjudice
Res judicata applies to a decided or adjudicated matter. It prohibits the trial of a case or a matter that has already been resolved in a prior case. Section 11 of the Civil Procedural Code, 1908 deals with res judicata.
Res subjudice applies in a matter which is pending. It prohibits the trial of a lawsuit while a judgment in an earlier lawsuit is still pending. Section 10 of the Code exclusively deals with the principle of res sub judice.
The applicability of both doctrines have been discussed hereunder.
- Applicability to compromise decree:
The idea of res judicata does not apply to compromise decrees since there is no determination of the parties’ rights in compromise procedures (Messers AA Associates vs Prem Goya (2002)).
Similar to this, the Guwahati High Court determined that the idea of res judicata is not applicable to compromise decrees and orders, while deciding on the case of Upaharas Lethasam v. Asibel Lingdol (1986), since a compromise is just an agreement made between the parties and the court makes no judgments.
- Applicability to arbitration proceedings:
The theory of res judicata applies to judgments based on awards as long as the processes have been concluded and the matter has been determined on the merits after giving the parties a chance to be heard.
- Applicability to execution proceedings:
The theory of res judicata is applicable to execution processes, as stated in the seventh explanation of Section 11 of the Civil Procedure Code of 1908 (Mohan Goyanka v. Vinay Kumar Mukharjee (1954)).
Applicability to Habeas corpus petitions: In the case of Sunil Dutt v. Union of India, it was decided that a habeas corpus petition filed on new grounds and under different circumstances would not be preempted by an earlier plea of this kind.
- Applicability to the dismissal of the writ petition in limine:
Res judicata was declared inapplicable in the case of Pujari Bai v. Madan Gopal (1989) where on the basis of laches or the availability of other remedies, the matter was dismissed in limine (without spoken orders).
- Applicability to matter collaterally and incidentally in issue:
In contrast to what was said in Sayed Mohammad v. Musa Ummer (2000), the ancillary and incidental matter at issue does not serve as res judicata.
- Applicability to IT proceedings or fixing fair rent proceedings:
Res judicata not applicable to IT proceedings or fixing of fair rent proceedings
It is necessary to note in the case of res subjudice that a matter that is ongoing in a foreign court would not prevent Indian courts from hearing the case, according to Section 10.
Due to the numerous frivolous and repetitious lawsuits and the ever-growing number of cases in the courts, it is essential that these two precepts be strictly followed in order to ensure that the legal system runs smoothly and that those who lack access to justice receive justice. These principles are not intended for, and cannot be used to evade justice. Instead, the goal is to increase the judiciary’s effectiveness. The Indian judiciary is already overburdened with cases, so one can only imagine how challenging it will be for the courts if it has to provide judgments in all cases, if parties begin bringing lawsuits twice. These ideas are essential for making sure that the time of the courts is used effectively and that everyone receives justice. They do so by making sure that a lawsuit is over, once a decision has been made and by prohibiting the filing of the same case on the same issue more than once. This ensures that the legal system operates efficiently. After all available remedies have been exhausted, the doctrine of res judicata seeks to ensure that no person should be vexed twice for the same subject matter. The doctrine of res subjudice, on the other hand, puts a stay on a case that is already ongoing in a prior court. It not only protects the competing interests of two concurrent courts, but it also makes the best use of available resources.
- Messers AA Associates Vs Prem Goya, A.I.R. 2002 Delhi 142
- Upaharas Lethasam v. Asibel Lingdol (A.I.R. 1986, Guwahati 55)
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