Stay of suit Law Insider

Stay of suit and its Landmark Judgement

LI Research

The expression Res Sub judice is Latin maxim which implies the “under judgment”. ‘Res’ signifies litigation and Sub-Judice means pending. Conjoining the two, the rule suggests these are the matters which are pending for judicial enquiry.

In other words, this rule applies where a matter is already pending before a competent court for the purpose of adjudication Section 10 of CPC deals with the stay of civil suits[1].

“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 India having jurisdiction to grant the relief claimed, or in any Court beyond the limits of India established or continued by the Central Government and having like jurisdiction, or before the Supreme Court”.

Section 10 of CPC states that no court will initiate the trial of any suit if the issues are directly or substantially related to the previously instituted suit between the same parties or parties litigating on behalf of them under the same title and the matter is pending before the court having the competent jurisdiction in the territory of India or any court beyond the limits of India established by central governments having the same jurisdiction or before supreme court.[2]

The rule is based on public approach which forbids the plaintiff to file two parallel cases on the similar topic and restricts the chances of having two contradictory judgments by the two courts. The purpose of the doctrine of Res Sub judice is to prevent a multiplicity of the proceedings and to refrain two conflicting decisions. The doctrine bars the parallel trial of the suit where the matter is pending to adjudicate in the former suit, in any case, it doesn’t limit in filling the ensuing suit[3].

This section is embedded in the CPC with the purpose that the defendant should not suffer twice for the same offense. 

For eg, there was an agreement between A & B wherein B need to supply raw materials to A but didn’t supply the same to A. then there will be breach of a contractual obligation by the B. A files suits against B in the competent court. Meanwhile, the decision of this court was pending, A filed another suit against B in another court.

Competent court by virtue of the power given in Section 10 put stay on procedures of another court on the grounds that the topic of the case was same and the choice was pending.

The main essentials of Section 10 are as follows:-

  1. Same Parties – For imposing stay under Section 10, parties in two suits need not be the same. To apply Section 10, it is enough that previously instituted suit is between parties under whom they or any of them claim litigating under the same title[4] 
  2. Matter in the issue must be same – For the application of section 10, it is enough to establish that substance of the matter in controversy in two suits are same.
  3. The suit must be pending – Section 10 gives the power to put stay on proceedings only if previously suit is pending. It is a duty and responsibility on the defendant to make the court aware about pending of former suit.

Nature and Scope:

Section 10 proclaims that no Court ought to continue with the trial of any suit in which the matter in issue is directly and substantially in issue in a previously instituted suit between the same parties and the Court before which the previously instituted suit is pending is competent to grant the relief sought. It also does not preclude a Court from passing interim orders, such as, grant of injunction or stay. However, it applies to appeals and revisions.

Object

The object of the rule is to prevent courts of concurrent jurisdiction from simultaneously entertaining and adjudicating upon two parallel litigations in respect of the same cause of action, the same subject-matter and the same relief.

The law is to confine a plaintiff to one litigation, thus obviating the possibility of two contradictory verdicts by one and the same court in respect of the same relief[5]. It also protects the litigant people from unnecessary harassment (SPA Annamalay Chetty v. BA Thornlill[6]).

Consolidation of suits

The objective behind Section 10 is to avoid two contradictory decisions in the same matter by different courts. To overcome this the courts can pass an order of consolidation of both the suits. In the case of Anurag and Co. and Anr. vs. Additional District Judge and Others, it was explained that consolidation of suits is ordered under Section 151 for meeting the ends of justice as it saves the party from a multiplicity of cases, delays and expenses. The parties are also relieved from producing the same evidence at two different places[7].

Suit pending in foreign Court

Explanation to section 10 provides that there is no bar on the power of an Indian Court to try a subsequently instituted suit if the previously instituted suit is pending in a foreign Court[8].

When court cannot apply the doctrine of Res sub judice[9]?

  1. In the case of Alimmllah vs. Sheikh, the court held that the rule of sub judice is not applied when issues in both suits are distinct and different.
  2. In Abdul vs. Asrafun, the court held that rule is not applied when there are some common issues and some different.
  3. When the parties are the same but there are different issues between them, then this rule is not applicable. (Manzar v. Rema, [10])
  4. It is not necessary for the applicability of Section 10 that all the issues in the prior instituted suit should also be issued in the later suit.

Important Judgements-

  1. M.S.M Sarma v. Sri Krishna Sinha[11]The present section bars the trial of a suit or an issue in which the matter directly and substantially in issue has already been adjudicated upon in a previous suit.
  2. National Institute of MH & NS v. C. Parameshwara[12] The fundamental test to attract Section 10 is whether on final decision being reached in the previous suit, such decision would operate as res judicata in the subsequent suit.
  3. Pukhraj D. Jain v. G. Gopalkrishna[13]The Supreme Court held that mere filing of application under section 10 does not put an embargo on the power of the Court to examine the merits of the suit. It was also held that where subsequently instituted suit can be decided on purely legal points without taking evidence, it is always open to the court to decide the relevant issues and not to keep the suit pending which has been instituted with an oblique to cause harassment to other side.
  4. Indian Bank v. Maharashtra State Co-op Mktg. Federation Ltd[14]The Supreme Court ordered in this case that the word trial in section 10 will have to be interpreted and construed keeping in mind the object and nature of that provision and the prohibition to 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.
  5. ManoharLal v. Seth Hiralal[15] The Supreme Court held that the language of section 10 was clear, definite and mandatory and prohibited the trial of a subsequent suit and it did not make any difference that the earlier suit was in violation of the agreement of parties or vexatious.
  6. National Institute of MH & NS v. C. Parameshwara[16]Section 10 of the Code od Civil Procedure has no application and consequently, it was not open to the High Court to by-pass s 10 of the Code of Civil Procedure by invoking section 151 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

Conclusion: Res sub judice as a doctrine has the main purpose of reducing the burden of courts from abundance cases. In other way it also reduces the burden of parties to adduce oral or written evidence twice in different courts. It also avoids conflicting decisions and makes sure to minimise the waste of resources of courts. The court can exercise this power and put a stay on the subsequent suit.

The people who try to misuse their right in order to get double benefits are looked after through this principle. Anyways the Indian judiciary is overburdened with many cases and if parties will start instituting cases twice then one can’t even imagine the situation of the courts in giving decision in all such cases.

  1. harshdeep singh, Res Sub Judice and Res Judicata, https://www.legalbites.in/res-sub-judice-res-judicata/, (June 22, 2018).

  2. Ashish Panday, Concept of Res Sub Judice under Section 10 of CPC- 1908, https://www.ourlegalworld.com/concept-of-res-sub-judice-section-10-cpc/ (22 Jan 2020)

  3. https://www.srdlawnotes.com/2018/09/what-is-stay-of-suit-or-res-subjudice.html

  4. Rutvik Shukla , Res Judicata and Code of Civil Procedure, https://www.lawteacher.net/free-law-essays/constitutional-law/res-judicata-and-code-of-civil-procedure-constitutional-law-essay.php, (6 Aug, 2019).

  5. Shailaja, Object and Essential Conditions of the Rule of Res Judicata (India), https://www.shareyouressays.com/knowledge/object-and-essential-conditions-of-the-rule-of-res-judicata-india/111592, on (Aug 06, 2016)

  6. SPA Annamalay Chetty v. BA Thornlill , AIR 1931 PC 263.

  7. Yogesh Sharma, the rule of Res Sub Judice under CPC?, https://lawcirca.com/what-is-the-rule-of-res-sub-judice-under-cpc/, (18 June, 2019)

  8.  MAHAMUD WAZED, Suit pending in a foreign court, https://lawhelpbd.com/article/res-sub-judice-res-judicata/, (19 May 2020)

  9. Suits Barred under CPC: Rule of Res Sub Judice, https://www.vakilno1.com/legal-news/suits-barred-cpc-rule-res-sub-judice-res-judicata.html, (12 Jan, 2018)

  10. Manzar v. Rema, 33 DRL 49

  11. M.S.M Sarma v. Sri Krishna Sinha AIR 1960 SC 1186

  12. National Institute of MH & NS v. C. Parameshwara AIR 2005 SC 242

  13. Pukhraj D. Jain v. G. Gopalkrishna AIR 2004 SC 3504

  14. Indian Bank v. Maharashtra State Co-op Mktg. Federation Ltd AIR 1998 SC 1952

  15. ManoharLal v. Seth Hiralal AIR 1962 SC 527

  16. National Institute of MH & NS v. C. Parameshwara AIR 2005 SC 242