Know the Doctrine of Res Sub Judice

The phrase Res Sub judice is Latin maxim. It means the “Status is under judgment” or already pending. The doctrine bars the parallel trial of the suit where the matter is pending to adjudicate in the former suit. It does not restrict in filling the subsequent suit. It prohibits the court to try parallel cases on the same subject matter and parties. The rule of the sub judice is based on the public policy. The purpose of the doctrine is to prevent a multiplicity of the proceedings. It restricts the chances of having two contradictory/ conflicting judgments by the two courts.

Essentials of Res Sub judice

  • There should be two suits (former suit & subsequent suit),
  • Previous suit must be pending then subsequent suit is instituted.
  • The suits must be between the same parties or their successors,
  • The matter in the issue in the later suit must be directly and substantially the same as in the previous suits,
  • The parties must be litigating under the same title/ same capacity in both the suits.
  • Both the suits should be pending before the court of law in India (extension of this code),
  • If the above essentials are fulfilled, the court can stay the proceedings under Section 10 of CPC.

Applications of Res Sub judice

  • The Previous suit must be pending – This Section gives the power to apply stay on proceedings to the subsequent suit only if previous suit is pending. It is a duty and responsibility on the defendant to inform the court or aware about pending of former suit to follow this maxim. But if it is pending in foreign court, then this Section shall not apply.
  • Same Parties – For applying stay to the subsequent suit under this Section, the identity of the parties is adequate. Parties in two suits need not to be the same. But to apply Section 10, it is enough that previously instituted suit is between the parties under whom they or any of them or their successors claim litigating under the same title under same suit.  
  • Same Title – To apply this section, the parties must be litigating under the same title under both suits on which cause of action was arisen. It means ‘in same capacity‘ or same identity to claim right.
  • Same Matter in the issue – For the application of section 10, it is enough to establish that substance of the matter in controversy in two suits are same. The  Identity of reliefs is not necessary for the applicability of this section.
  • The Same court – This Section 10 of CPC applies only when the previous suit is pending before the competent court and where the subsequent suit is instituted, is the same court or the other court situated in India having  lower/ same/ upper grade jurisdiction but having jurisdiction to grant the relief which is claimed by the party or the court situated out side the India established or continued by the Central Government having jurisdiction to grant the relief which is claimed or the Supreme Court.

Important meanings to know

  • Parties– Plaintiff and defendant or  any of them and successor of any of them or their successors
  • Directly and substantially– Directly means such facts exists immediately and without intervention. substantially means such facts belonging to substance i.e. actually existing, real or truth, not seeming or imaginary, not illusive. The judgment stands on facts and circumstances of each case.
  • Matter in issue– A matter that is in dispute as element of  legal issue which is to be settle in the court.
  • Cause of action– The fact or combination of facts sufficient to justify a right to sue to claim and obtain relief or the enforcement of a right against another
  • Suit–  It is not defined under this code. After reading the section 9 along with section 26, it is very clear that a suit must be of the civil nature and must be instituted with the plaint and affidavit.

Res sub judice shall not apply when

  • issues in both suits are distinct and different.
  • there are some common issues and some are different.
  • the parties are the same but there are different issues between them.
  • all the issues in the prior instituted suit should also be issued in the later suit along with other/ different issues.
  • It is the foreign court where the suit is Pending before it, it does not bar any Indian court to initiate proceedings of the case on the same cause of action. So, Section 10 of the Civil Procedure Code do not apply to the Foreign courts.

Trikamda Jethabhai v. Jivraj Kalianji AIR 1942 Bombay, 314

The scope of section 10 is clear, unambiguous, definite & mandatory. The word ‘shall’ in the provision makes it mandatory. Section 10 does not require that matter in the issues of two suits should be the same but it requires that matter should be directly or substantially be the same. Stay of proceedings is necessary for the court to avoid municipality of the proceedings and harassments to the parties. Section 10 authorizes only stay on proceedings but not a dismissal of the proceedings.

Guru Prasad Mohanty v. Bijoy Kumar Das AIR 1984 Ori. 209

Section 10 of the CPC prohibits the court to try parallel cases on the same parties. cause of action, subject matter and relief. The policy of law is to confine the plaintiff to one litigation. Thus,  It is to prevent the chances of having two contradictory judgments by the two competent courts. A civil court has inherent power under Section 151 to stay a suit to achieve end of the justice. Similarly the court can consolidate different suits between the same parties in which the matter in issue is substantially the same.

Indian Bank v. Maharashtra State Cooperation Marketing Federation Ltd. AIR 1998 SC 1952

The main purpose of this section is to avoid two conflicting decisions by the two courts. A civil court applying its inherent power  in an appropriate case can pass an order of consolidation of both the suits between the same parties in which the matter in issue is substantially the same. An order of stay of suit does not prevent the court to  pass interim orders. Hence court can make temporary injunction, interlocutory orders etc..

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