Explain the principle of Res Subjudice
The whole Indian legal system is revolving around two things. One is right and another one is remedy. According to this system, if any right of a person has been violated by another person then the former person has right to file a suit against latter person and claim remedy from him.
Whenever, a suit has been filed in any competent court, it is a duty of that court to provide an adequate remedy to an aggrieved person and whenever a decree has been granted in favour of an aggrieved person, that person can get the decree executed against the judgment debtor and can enjoy the benefits of that decree. But, suppose if two different contradictory decrees have been passed by two different courts on a same matter in issue then in such a situation, it will become very difficult for the executing court to execute that two contradictory decrees. The doctrine of Res sub- judice protects the executing courts from such situations because the main aim of this doctrine is to prevent the courts from passing two different contradictory decrees on a same matter in issue.
The doctrine of Res Sub- judice is based upon the principle of equity, justice and good conscience. It is founded on the public policy and the main objective of this doctrine is to protect the parties from unnecessary harassment and hardship and to save public money and precious time of the courts. Moreover, it prevents the courts of concurrent jurisdiction from passing contradictory decrees upon same matter in issue.
The term Sub- judice means ‘under consideration’. Primarily, according to this doctrine, if any matter in issue is under consideration in one court then if another suit is filed on same matter in issue then in such a situation, the court in which subsequent suit has been filed will not try that matter in issue and that subsequent suit will be stayed by the court.
In the leading case of P.V. Shetty v. B.S. Giridhar, AIR 1982 SC 83, the hon’ble court held that the policy of this 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.
Section 10 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, deals with the provisions of Doctrine of Res Sub- judice. According to this section, if any suit has been filed by a party on a particular matter in issue and again another subsequent suit has been filed between same parties and the matter in issue upon which the previous suit was filed is directly and substantially in issue in the subsequent suit then in such a situation, the court in which subsequent suit has been filed will not proceed with the trial of that suit and the court will impose stay upon that subsequent suit. According to this section, the subsequent suit will be stayed only if the previous suit has been filed in a competent court which can pass an adequate decree.
In the leading case of Indian Bank v. Maharashtra State Coop. Marketing Federation Ltd., AIR 1998 SC 1952, the hon’ble court held that section 10 declares that no court shall proceed 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.
According to section 10 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, the doctrine of Res Sub- judice is applicable only if following conditions are satisfied:
• There must be two suits, one previously instituted and the other subsequently instituted
• The matter in issue in the subsequent suit must be directly and substantially in issue in the previous suit
• Both the suits must be between the same parties or their representatives
• The previously instituted suit must be pending in the same court in which the subsequent suit is brought or in any other court in India or in any Court beyond the limits of India established or continued by the Central government or before the Supreme court
• The court in which the previous suit is instituted must have jurisdiction to grant the relief claimed in the subsequent suit
• Such parties must be litigating under the same title in both the suits
In the leading case of Manohar Lal Chopra v. Seth Hiralal, AIR 1962 SC 527, the hon’ble court held that as soon as the above conditions are satisfied, a court cannot proceed with the subsequently instituted suit, since the provisions contained in section 10 are mandatory and no discretion is left with the court.
According to section 10 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, if two suits have been filed by same parties on a same matter in issue, then it is mandatory for the court in which subsequent suit has been filed to impose stay on the trial of that subsequently filed suit. But, it does not mean that it also takes away the power of court to grant interim orders. It means that if a court imposes stay upon any suit even then that court can pass interim orders in that suit.
In the leading case of Indian Bank v. Maharashtra State Coop. Marketing Federation ltd., AIR 1998 SC 1952, the hon’ble court held that an order of stay of suit does not take away the power of the court from passing interim orders. Hence, in a stayed suit, it is open to the court to make interim orders, such as, attachment before judgement, temporary injunction, appointment of receiver, amendment of plaint or written statement etc.
According to section 10, the test for applicability of this doctrine is whether the decision in a previously instituted suit would operate as res judicata in the subsequent suit. If it is so, the subsequent suit must be stayed. But if the decree is passed in contravention of this doctrine then that decree will not be considered null and void. If the parties waive their right and court proceeds with the subsequent suit and passes a decree then parties cannot challenge that decree and that decree will be executed in a normal manner.