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This article is written by Himanshu Tagaya.

Facts of the Case

After the death of the predecessor of the gaddi of the math, the parties were taken into consideration themselves as the new secession of the gaddi and holder to the management of the property. In 1967, the petitioner filed a case for the permanent injunction over the gaddi in the court of sub judge, Rohtak, and the defendant parties filed for the succession and management of the gaddi; on the technical grounds the plead for the injunction got dismissed but in the subsequent appeal in the High Court for an injunction got approved however in 1987, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the High Court and resorted the judgment of first appellate courts along with the observation that the plaintiff/respondent can file a suit against the possession if they intend to do.

In the recent event, the trust filed the suit for the management of the gaddi in the math in the trial court and the first appellate court the defendant also filed for the possession but failed to provide ownership to it and dismissed the case; afterward, the defendant re-litigated in the second round of appeal to the High Court in the Punjab and Haryana while admitting the additional evidence which was accepted by the court which lead to the reversed the judgment of the first appellate courts. Furthermore, that issue went to the Supreme Court which was accepted under special leave granted and appeal was heard and the Supreme Court reversed the decree of the High Court over the first appellate court stating that the respondent can’t be entitled for the gaddi.

Issue Involved

In this case, the issues involved were:

  • Whether the suit is barred from the ambit of principles of res judicata or the order ii rule 2 of CPC with the effect of the observation of these courts in the previous judgment?
  • Whether the event of this suit involved the principle of the issue of estoppel?
  • The scope of the former suits being restricted to the question of possession of the property and management of the gaddi between the parties regarding their legal rights.

Laws Involved

“Civil Procedure Code, 1908 – Section 11 and Order II R. 2 (Res judicata)

No Court shall try any suit or issue in which the matter directly and substantially in issue has been directly and substantially in issue in a former suit between the same parties, or between parties under whom they or any of them claim, litigating under the same title, in a Court competent to try such subsequent suit or the suit in which such issue has been subsequently raised, and has been heard and finally decided by such Court.”

“Civil Procedure Code, 1908 – Section 11 explanation 4

Any matter which might and ought to have been made the ground of defence or attack in such former suit shall be deemed to have been a matter directly and substantially in issue in such suit.”

“Civil Procedure Code, 1908 – Section 12

Where a plaintiff is precluded by rules from instituting a further suit in respect of any particular cause of action, he shall not be entitled to institute a suit in respect of such cause of action in any Court to which this Code applies.”

“Specific Relief Act 1963 – Section 5

A person entitled to the possession of the specific immovable property may recover it in the manner provided by the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908).”

Analysis

The present case which was an appeal under the special leave granted by the Supreme Court for the possession for the gaddi and over the management withholding with the two different judgment by the first appellate courts and the High Courts in the favour for both the parties subsequently; the Supreme Court examined the case entirely, examined the facts of the case and all the available previous cases of appeals, judgments, evidence which were related to the cause of action of the case.

The court believed that the first appellate court’s decision should be restored and the High Court ruling should be reversed. The only relevant question arose here was whether the second suit from the respondent is touching the scope of the principle of res judicata and order II rule 2 of Civil procedure court because as per the earlier judgment of the Supreme Courts in the suit for the injunction clearly stated that respondent/plaintiff can’t get the injunction for the over the gaddi but he can peruse for the possession of the gaddi.

In the new suit of appeal, the respondent was unable to provide the suitable evidence to the first appellate court and his appeal got rejected but in the second round of the litigation in the High Court in which additional evidence accepted by the court the decree of the lower court got reversed, with reference to the Supreme Court ruling the court referred to the case in the different parts to solve in part in the reference of the first appellate court judgment court, it referred to the Robert Watson and Co. v. The Collector (1869) case in which Superior Court laid down the prescient in point of a failure to produce the evidence is lead to dismissal of a suit as per the maxim “De non aparentibus et non existentibus eadum est ratio”. In the first appellate courts stuck to that and dismissed the appeal for the respondent.

In terms of the res judicata, the court referred to the Shiv Kumar Sharma v. Santosh Kumari case in which if either or both parties had full knowledge of his rights but claims only some of the things but chose to omit to claim other things, in the view of order 2 rule 2 of the code itself cannot be permitted to get the same thing indirectly. In connection to that in the case of Sheodan Singh v. Daryao Kunwa, the court noticed and laid down the principle of Section 11 of CPC. In the light of the present suit, the issue for the claiming the entitlement to gaddi by the respondent was interconnected to indirectly by the injunction suit which was previously filed suit to an injunction to gaddi form the others to holding the ownership which was decided by the Supreme Courts in 1987 that injunction cannot be take place in this matter.

The Supreme Court further explores the principle of “estoppel per rem judicate” is a decree of evidence. In the case of the State of U.P. v Nawab Hussain, while it has been stated that it cannot be allowed to obtain a second judgment for the same civil suit on the same cause of action. Because it may lead to conflict the administration of justice to disrupt. The same thing happened to this case, the High Court allowed the writ petition in where conclusion was constructive res judicata and High Court provided wrong observation which directly left open the matter of case in the court. In the present case, High Court did similar mistake while allowing the defendant to provide additional evidence to prove his ownership over gaddi by presenting the oral witness which was already dismissed by the first appellate courts itself, and while accepting those evidence which lead to getting the judgment in the favour of the defendant left open the case in terms of possession of the gaddi.

Furthermore, it was observed by the courts that in the case of Hope Plantations Ltd. v. Taluk Land Board, Peermada and Anr., it was observed that the parties in the cases might or ought to litigate the case matter which was related to or basically with the subject matter of the other case. Which further leads to the explanation 4 of Section 11 under CPC (constructive res judicata) where one cause of action matter can be approached by the differently the parties by converting the matter into both attack and defence technique. Also, to that, it’s stated by the Supreme Court that the principle of the estoppel and res judicata is founded on public policy and justice.

These terms correlated but also have a different function to perform. Res judicata was applied over the court from exercising the jurisdiction from taking the cases to overturned or amendment of the decision of the superior courts in any cases which cannot be the ground for the review the judgment on the other hand estoppel barred the parties from filling the same issue suits, again and again, as it leads to wastage of resource and time of courts. In the present case, it was observed by the court that respondents tried to appeal to attain the same cause of action multiple times with different ways, while suits for the injunction over the gaddi or the possession over the property gaddi and management of the gaddi.

Under the Specific Relief Act, 1963 in the present suit for the possession will be proceeded by the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure. The applicability of the CPC provision concerning all relevant provisions shall be applied.

Conclusion and observation

The Supreme Court gave its decision on the present case in the favour of the first appellate court, restored its decision and reversed the ruling of the High Courts and set aside it. By providing the explanations on the final judgment, the respondent in this case does not have the entitlement over the gaddi of the math and neither the management of the property.

However, the judgment of the High Court was reversed due to the following reason:

By the virtue of Section 11 of Civil Procedure Code (res judicata) and the Order 2 Rule 2- the respondent/petitioner has filed suits for the injunction over the gaddi of math which got dismissed by the courts on the technical grounds and not proven by the petitioner himself because of lack of evidence. And in the final judgment by the Supreme Court, that plaintiff cannot have the injunction over the gaddi and management and observed the judgment will not be in the way of the suit of the possession. But in the new appeal of the trust and for the ownership of gaddi and management, the respondent challenged this suit in the court but could not prove for the ownership in the trial courts and first appellate court which was also re appealed in the High Court but since the High Court did not in the circumstance pass the decree against the first appellate courts.

The special leave granted to the Supreme Court stated that as per the previous judgment of the court cannot be interpreted as a statute or law. The meaning of every judgment or the words of the judgment must be taken into consideration over the facts of the individual case. While passing any judgment can’t take away the rights of the successful party indirectly or directly. And also, any observation made by the superior courts will not be binding but it will be depending upon the ratio of the decision. A decision must be coming into existence by the merit of the case issues in the individual case.

In their further viewpoint, the principle of estoppel and res judicata is applied for maintaining public policy and justice. And both terms are correlated and have a different function to do. In the terms of the case where the first petitioner who filled case for the injunction over the gaddi who was qualified by the court to get an injunction and tried to approach the court for the ownership over the gaddi and its management failed to prove the point to the court that over the same cause of action both times respondent/petitioner approached to the courts that’s why the Supreme Courts set out the Section 11 & 12 of CPC including the estoppel while deciding the case.

In the observation of the case, the verdict of the Supreme Courts delivered on this case was fair; the applicability of Section 11 & 12 of Civil Procedure Code and Order 2 Rule 2 was maintainable as per the facts of the case. The judgment of the Supreme Court and its explanation over it was fair and just. In this case, the rule which was applied by the court in terms of res judicata and estoppel, contractive res judicata was perfectly in their reference cited cases.


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