Res Judicata under Section 11 of CPC ,1908

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Introduction: Origin of Res Judicata

Res Judicata is enshrined under Section 11 of CPC,1908. The historical expedition of Res Judicata is quite intriguing and fascinating. At the outset, the Latin maxim was “Res Judicata pro veritate occipitur” and subsequently dwindled to “Res Judicata” over the years. English common law gave birth to Res Judicata, which was extracted through the overriding notion of consistency and Judicial economy and finality. From Common law, it expanded its roots in Code of Civil procedure (CPC),1908 which was eventually included in Indian Legal System. From CPC the doctrine also came into existence in the Administrative law and gradually it trudged towards other acts and statutes and they also embraced the Doctrine of Res Judicata. Under Roman Law, the defendant can successfully challenge a suit by the plaintiff via “ex capito res judicata” which means that “one decision and one suit is enough for any lone dispute”. 

Res Judicata is based on 3 Roman maxims:

  1. Interest republicae ut sit finis litium means it is in the best interest of the state that at some stage there should be an end to litigation.
  2. Namo debet lis vaxari pro eaderm causa means no person should be harassed for the same cause twice. 
  3. Re judicata pro veritate occipitur which means thatJudicial decision must be accepted as correct.

In Ancient Hindu Law and Muslim law, Res Judicata was known as Purva Nyaya which means former judgment.

Principle of Res Judicata

The principle of res judicata calls to fortify impartial administration of justice and honesty and to intercept the law from exploited. The principle of res judicata is applied when a litigant attempt to file a another subsequent lawsuit on the same matter, after receiveing a judgment in a previous case which has same parties. In numerous jurisdictions, this applies not only to specific concerned claims made during the first case but also to claims that could have been made during the same case.

Essentials of Res Judicata

Essentials of Res Judicata are as follows:

  1. A Judicial decision by competent court or tribunal,
  2. binding and final and
  3. Any Judicial decision based on merits.
  4. A fair chance of hearing
  5. Irrespective of whether the earlier decision was right or wrong is irrelevant.

Doctrine of Res Judicata

The Doctrine of Res Judicata comes under the ambit of Section 11 of CPC and it is also called as “rule of conclusiveness of judgment”. This Doctrine has been elaborated in the case of Satyadhyan Ghosal v. Deorajin Debi. In this case landlords made an appeal who obtained a decree for ejectment against the tenants named Deorajin Debi’s minor son and Deorajin Debi. However, the landlords were not able to get the possession in place soon after the decree was obtained. Then an application was made by tenant under the ambit of Section 28 of the Calcutta Thika Tenancy Act and allegedly claimed that they were Thika tenants. This application was combated by the landlords saying they did not fall under the cadre of Thika Tenants which is defined under the act. 

The tenants moved to the Calcutta High Court under CPC (Code of Civil Procedure). The court stuck to the principle of Res Judicata to achieve the decisiveness in litigation. The result came that the original court, and the higher court, can proceed with any future litigation on the basis that the foregoing decision was correct. 

Res Judicata and Res Subjudice

The doctrine of res judicata and res subjudice are distinct from each other –

  1.  Res subjudice applicable where no decision has been taken over a matter or when a matter that is pending trial whereas res judicata applicable to a matter arbitrated or adjudicated.
  2. Res subjudice forbids the trial of an undecided decision in a previous suit. In contrast, on the other hand, res judicata forbids the trial of a suit that has been pronounced in a former suit.

Res Judicata and Lis pendens

There is a difference between Les pendens and Res Judicata. Res judicata is applicable on more actions than one, on the other hand the doctrine of Lis pendens is applicable with the same suit during the pendency of which there is an alienation of the right, title and interest of one of the parties thereto.

Res Judicata and Stare Decisis

Res judicata means that the case has been decided already or a matter settled by a judgment or decision. Stare decisis, and Res Judicata are both related to the matters of arbitration(adjudication). Stare decisis lays its emphasis on legal principles, whereas res judicata emphasises on the judgment’s conclusiveness. Res judicata binds the parties whereas stare decisis sets off between strangers and bins the courts to take a contradictory view on the law that has been decided already. Stare decisis is more about legal principles whereas res judicata is related to controversy.


Decree of Res Judicata is an appeal which party must waive. If a party doesn’t raise the appeal of res judicata, then the matter will be decided against him. An opposite party has to make the court aware of the adjudication of the matter in the previous suit. If the party fails to do so, then the matter is decided against him.


The Doctrine of Res Judicata can be apprehended as something that restricts either party to “move the clock back” during the proceedings’ pendency. The extent of res judicata is vast and includes many things that even include Public Interest Litigation. This doctrine can be applied outside the ambit of the Code of Civil Procedure and covers many areas related to people and society. The extend and the scope have broadened with the time and the Supreme Court has elongated the areas with its judgments.

Authors: Archit Singhvi

Editor: Kanishka Vaish, Editor, LexLife India.