Sunday, 8 October 2017

Basic concept of doctrine of Res judicata

 Reference in this regard may be made to Wade and Forsyth on Administrative Law, 9th Edn., p. 243, wherein it is stated:
"One special variety of estoppel is res judicata. This results from the rule, which prevents the parties to a judicial determination from litigating the same question over again, even though the determination is demonstrably wrong. Except in proceedings by way of appeal, the parties bound by the judgment are estopped from questioning it. As between one another, they may neither pursue the same cause of action again, nor may they again litigate any issue which was an essential element in the decision. These two aspects are sometimes distinguished as „cause of action estoppel‟ and „issue estoppel‟."
(iii) Swamy Atmananda and Ors. vs. Sri Ramakrishna Tapovanam and Ors., (2005) 10 SCC 51, wherein it was observed as follows:- (SCC, at page 61, para 26) "26. The object and purport of principle of res judicata as contended in Section 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure is to uphold the rule of conclusiveness of judgment, as to the points decided earlier of fact, or of law, or of fact and law, in every subsequent suit between the same parties. Once the matter which was the subject- matter of lis stood determined by a competent court, no party thereafter can be permitted to reopen it in a subsequent litigation. Such a rule was brought into the statute book with a view to bring the litigation to an end so that the other side may not be put to harassment."
(iv) M. Nagabhushana vs. State of Karnataka and Others, (2011) 3 SCC 408, wherein the principles of res judicata were delineated as under:- (SCC, at pages 415-416, paras 12 and 13) "12. The principles of res judicata are of universal application as they are based on two age-old principles, namely, interest reipublicae ut sit finis litium which means that it is in the interest of the State that there should be an end to litigation and the other principle is nemo debet bis vexari, si constat curiae quod sit pro una et eademn causa meaning thereby that no one ought to be vexed twice in a litigation if it appears to the Court that it is for one and the same cause. This doctrine of res judicata is common to all civilized system of jurisprudence to the extent that a judgment after a proper trial by a Court of competent jurisdiction should be regarded as final and conclusive determination of the questions litigated and should for ever set the controversy at rest.
13.That principle of finality of litigation is based on high principle of public policy. In the absence of such a principle great oppression might result under the colour and pretence of law in as much as there will be no end of litigation and a rich and malicious litigant will succeed in infinitely vexing his opponent by repetitive suits and actions. This may compel the weaker party to relinquish his right. The doctrine of res judicata has been evolved to prevent such an anarchy. That is why it is perceived that the plea of res judicata is not a technical doctrine but a fundamental principle which sustains the rule of law in ensuring finality in litigation. This principle seeks to promote honesty and a fair administration of justice and to prevent abuse in the matter of accessing Court for agitating on issues which have become final between the parties.
Delhi High Court
Union Of India vs Videocon Industries Ltd. on 5 March, 2012
Author: Reva Khetrapal
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