SC on ‘Res Judicata’: Grave issues of Public Interest should not vanish without Substantial Adjudication

Chaini Parwani –

Published On: November 19, 2021 at 13:27 IST

The Supreme Court observed that Court must be aware to the contemporary reality of “Ambush Public Interest Litigations” filed with a genuine intention to acquire a dismissal and prohibit conscious litigants from appearing before the Court.

A Bench comprising of Justices DY Chandrachud and BV Nagarathna stated “There is a trend of poorly pleaded Public Interest Litigations being filed instantly following a disclosure in the media, with a conscious intention to obtain a dismissal from the Court and preclude genuine litigants from approaching the Court in the Public Interest”.

The Supreme Court noted while highlighting the applicability of the Principle of ‘Res judicata’ under provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, that it must be conscious that severe issues of Public Interest are not vanished solely because a Petition was initially filed and disposed of, without a Substantial Adjudication on Merits.

Section 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure 1908 embodies the Principles of ‘Res judicata’ which bans the Court from determining issues that have been directly or substantially having been the subject matter in an earlier proceeding between the same parties or parties alleging under the same title and have been finally determined.

The Supreme Court’s pronouncement came in light while dismissing the Centre’s submission that Non-Governmental Organization’s (NGO) Petition arguing the proposed Disinvestment of Government’s 29.54 residuary shares in Hindustan Zinc Ltd should not be taken into consideration, as a similar Petition was rejected by the Court in 2012.

The Bench stated “In this case, since the Three-Judge Bench of this Court rejected the Petition filed by Maton Mines Mazdoor Sangh (2012) in limine, without a Substantive Adjudication on the merits of their claim, the present Writ Petition is not barred by res judicata.”

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