Who are barred to suit further?

Supreme court law insider in

Khushi Lunawat

The fundamental principle of English law is Ubi jus ibi remedium, which means there is a remedy wherever there is a right. The Indian legal system has adopted this principle as well. Under the Code of Civil Procedure, an aggrieved person who has a civil grievance may bring a complaint before a competent civil court.

However, under the Code of Civil Procedure 1908, which is discussed below, few suits are expressly barred. Several principles have been laid down in common law, forming the basis of the current legal system in India. The aim of these doctrines is to evaluate the efficiency of the judiciary and ensure that the productive pace of justice in the court is achieved and maintained.

This article discusses two of these principles, namely, the Doctrine of Res Sub Judice and Res Judicata.


Section 10 of Civil procedure code read as follows:

Stay of suit—No Court shall proceed with the trial of any suit in which the matter in issue is also directly and substantially in issue in a previously instituted suit between the same parties, or between parties under whom they or any of them claim litigating under the same title where such suit is pending in the same or any other Court in 6 [India] have jurisdiction to grant the relief claimed, or in any Court beyond the limits of 6 [India] established or continued by 7 [the Central Government 8 ***.] and having like jurisdiction, or before 9 [the Supreme Court].

Explanation.—The pendency of a suit in a foreign Court does not preclude the Courts in 6 [India] from trying a suit founded on the same cause of action.

If two or more cases are filed in two or more different courts between the same parties on the same subject-matter, the competent court shall have jurisdiction to stay the proceedings of another court.

The purpose of the res sub judice doctrine is to prevent courts of concurrent jurisdiction from entertaining and adjudicating two parallel litigations simultaneously with respect to the same cause of action, the same subject matter and the same relief claimed.


  1. The issue at issue must be substantially the same in both cases.
  2. The previously instituted suit must be pending before the same or any other court responsible for granting the following:
  3. In the suit, relief was claimed.
  4. In subsequent action, Relief claimed the suit.
  5. The parties’ suits must be the same or litigated under the same title between the parties under whom they claim or any of them.
  6. The Foreign Court’s Pendency of Suit does not activate Section 10 CPC.
  7. If a suit is pending before the Court and an application is subsequently filed before a Thasildhar, Section 10 is not invoked as Thasildhar is not a “Court”.


1) Escorts Const. Equipments Ltd V Action Const Equipments Ltd (1998)

The Court held that the conditions needed to invoke S.10 CPC were:

  1. In both suits, the matter in question must be substantially the same.
  2. Suit to be litigated by the same parties or parties under them
  3. Previously instituted proceedings must be brought before the same court or other court which has jurisdiction to grant the requested relief.
  4. There is nothing to the effect that the defendant should not question the jurisdiction of the Court in the previously instituted lawsuit, and the fact remains that, in its defense against S.10 CPC, the defendant did not find the Jamshedpur Court to be competent. The defendant was thus granted relief.

2) Dees Piston Ltd V State Bank of India (1991):

It was held to be that in this situation. Where a matter is brought before the competent Civil Court, the National Commission shall not lodge a petition under the Consumer Protection Act concerning the same subject-matter.

3) Indian Bank V Maharashtra State Co-Operative Marketing Federation (1998):

In this case, the court held that the intent of the prohibition in S.10 CPC was to prevent the courts of concurrent jurisdiction from pursuing two parallel cases concurrently, preventing conflicting findings on the matter in question.


Under Section 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, res judicata, or the rule of conclusiveness of the judgment, was introduced into Indian law. It notes that no party may be allowed to reopen the case in a subsequent lawsuit until a matter is eventually resolved by the competent Court. Section 11 provides that;

“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.”

This doctrine is based on 3 maxims

  1. Nemo debet bis vexari pro una et eadem causa (no person should be distressed twice for the same cause);
  2. Interest reipublicae ut sit finis litium (it is in the interest of the state that there should be an end to a litigation); and
  3. Res judicata pro veritate occipitur (a judicial decision must be accepted as correct).


  1. Same matter-the subject-matter in the following suit and the former suit must be the same explicitly and significantly in dispute.
  2. In the following suit and the previous suit, the parties must be the same.
  3. Same Title- In all suits, the parties shall litigate under the same title.
  4. To try the following action, the court that determined the former suit must be qualified.
  5. The case must have been heard in the subsequent suit and eventually resolved in the former suit by the court.

Section 11 is compulsory. The doctrine of res judicata will apply if all the above-mentioned requirements are satisfied. Section 11 is not exhaustive, however. The doctrine has long been applied in various other kinds of proceedings, apart from civil suits.


1) Slochana Amma v. Narayana Nair 1994

The court held that the res judicata doctrine is also applicable to quasi-judicial proceedings before tribunals.

2) Govindaswamy v. Kasturi Ammal 1998

The court held that, for both the plaintiff and the defendant, the doctrine of res judicata applies.

3) Umayal Achi v MPM Ramanathan Chettiar

The court held that whether or not it functions as res judicata does not affect the correctness or otherwise of a judicial decision.

4) Mahaboob Sahab v Syed Ismail

For the application of res judicata, the court held that the following four conditions must be met:

  1. A conflict of interest between the defendants involved must take place
  2. In order to provide justice to the complainant, it would be appropriate to decide those conflicts
  3. To eventually decide the issues between the defendants.
  4. To be required and proper parties to the suit, co-defendants.

5) Iftikhar Ahmed v. Syed Meharban Ali

The court held that res judicata would be applicable if the following four conditions were fulfilled:

A conflict of interest between the co-plaintiffs must take place

In order to provide justice to the complainant, it would be appropriate to decide those conflicts

The problems to be eventually resolved by the plaintiffs.

6) Sunil Dutt v Union of India

Habeas corpus, submitted on new grounds and modified conditions, was found not to be barred by a previous petition of this nature.

7) Pujari Bai v Madan Gopal

Res judicata was held to be irrelevant when dismissed in limine (without speaking orders) or on the basis of lacunae or the existence of alternative remedies.


Hence, by these two doctrine an individual can be barred to suit further. The Res Sub Judice doctrine acts as a stay in two separate courts from the same subject matter in question, and the twin purposes of Section 10 CPC are to prevent contradictory rulings and findings. Avoiding wastage of money and time from the Court.

On the other hand, the Res Judicata doctrine seeks to ensure that a case is not re-opened until it is resolved after the expiration of all remedies. This is vital as if it were not in existence, the cases would go on indefinitely and no decision would be drawn on any matter.

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