The doctrine of “Res Sub Judice” emerges as a guiding principle to maintain the integrity of judicial proceedings. Often referred to as the legal concept of “a matter under judgment,” Res Sub Judice plays a pivotal role in preventing the duplication of legal processes and contradictory outcomes.
This article explores the essence of Res Sub Judice in CPC, unravelling its significance in upholding fairness, promoting judicial efficiency, and ensuring that justice is not only served but also perceived as consistent and coherent.
Res means every object of right that forms the subject matter in a particular case. In Latin, the term Sub-judice means ‘under a judge’ or in other words, a matter ‘under consideration’. It means a cause that is under trial or pending before a court or judge. The doctrine of res-judicata prevents the trial of a suit that is already pending in a court of competent jurisdiction.
When the same parties file two or three cases in the same matter, the competent court has the power to stay proceedings of another court. The primary aim is to prohibit the courts of concurrent jurisdiction from simultaneously entertaining two parallel litigations.
Section 10 of the Code gives for Stay of Suit and it reads as follows:
“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 have 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.
Explanation.–The pendency of a suit in a foreign Court does not preclude the Courts in [India] from trying a suit founded on the same cause of action.”
The “res sub-judice” principle stops a court from continuing with the trial of a lawsuit if the topic being discussed is very similar to one in a previous lawsuit involving the same parties. The court that’s already handling the previous lawsuit has the authority to provide the requested help.
The doctrine of Res Sub Judice under Section 10 CPC applies to ongoing trials, not the beginning of lawsuits. It doesn’t prevent the court from making temporary orders like injunctions or holds. However, it does apply to reviews and appeals.
This rule is in place to avoid having many cases about the same thing in courts. It also prevents the person who filed the case (plaintiff) from getting two different decisions from different courts or two opposite judgments. It’s also there to keep people from facing unnecessary trouble. The legal policy aims to make sure the plaintiff only goes through one legal process, so there’s no chance of the same court giving two conflicting decisions for the same help.
The Doctrine of Res Sub Judice in CPC is a rule that should only be used in specific situations. It shouldn’t be used too much to stop trials of very different cases. There are certain conditions that must be met:
The doctrine of Res Sub Judice under CPC only applies to situations involving civil lawsuits. It doesn’t apply to criminal cases. In a case called Hansraj Gupta and Others v. Dehradun Mussoorrie Electric Tramway Co Ltd (1932), the court decided that a suit starts when someone files a complaint (plaint) as the person who was wronged (plaintiff). The other person, who the complaint is against (the defendant), then has to reply with a written statement. This rule doesn’t cover criminal cases.
In another case, Inderpal Singh Hassanwalia v. Bir Tibbtan Woollen Mills (1973), a contract was made between the petitioner and the respondents for selling blankets and woollen textiles. The respondents were supposed to get a commission for being agents. The petitioner claimed the respondents didn’t do their part, breaking the contract. But the contract said any dispute would be settled through Arbitration. So, the Delhi High Court decided that this doesn’t count as a civil lawsuit and Section 10 of the Code of Civil Procedure or Res Sub Judice under CPC doesn’t apply.
The two lawsuits with the same issues must be filed at different times in courts that can deal with similar cases. One lawsuit has to be filed first and the other comes after. Courts that can handle the same kinds of cases are called “Concurrent Jurisdiction” courts. The parties in both lawsuits must be the same, with maybe only the plaintiff or defendant changing.
This means that all the issues being discussed in both cases must be exactly the same. There shouldn’t be any difference in what’s being discussed in either case. They must completely match. If this isn’t the case, then the Doctrine of Res Sub Judice in CPC can’t be used to stop the trial in the later case. Also, the decision from the first court won’t have any impact on the later court as “Res Judicata.” The terms “directly” and “substantially” mean without anything in between and essentially, respectively.
In the case of Ragho Prasad Gupta v. Shri Krishna Poddar (1969), the Supreme Court stated that because the issues in the second case were completely different from the first case, the Doctrine of Res Sub Judice and Res Judicata wouldn’t apply. Additionally, when a decree is passed based on an arbitration award, the matter can’t be taken to court again and both parties are bound by it.
Section 10 of the Code of Civil Procedure clearly says that Indian courts aren’t stopped from continuing a trial just because a similar case is already in a foreign court.
So, if two cases with the same issues are happening in two different countries, both can be heard at the same time.
Example: Imagine a conflict between people from two different countries, say Country A and B. The case is first started in Country A by its citizen. But the other person also starts a case about the same thing in Country B. In this situation, because the countries are different, the trial in Country B can continue and both countries’ courts can hear the case at the same time. So, the Doctrine of Res Sub Judice under won’t apply in such cases.
The case should be still happening in the court where it was first started while also being filed in another court with similar authority. Only then can the trial in the second court be stopped. If the case is already decided, the decision will directly affect both parties and Res Sub Judice under CPC will not be applicable.
These are the important conditions for the Doctrine of Res Sub Judice to be used in cases filed in different courts. If these conditions aren’t met, the trial in the second court can’t be stopped.
The deciding factor for whether Section 10 applies is whether the decision from a previous lawsuit would be treated as a decided case (res judicata) in a later lawsuit. If this is the case, then the later lawsuit should be put on hold. This understanding is also supported by the case of S.P.A Annamalay Chetty vs. B.A Thornbill.
The explanation clause of Section 10 clearly states that Indian courts have the power to handle a lawsuit that has been started later, even if there’s already a lawsuit about the same thing pending in a foreign court. This means that both cases can be processed at the same time in different courts.
The term “inherent” has a broad meaning, referring to something essential and inseparable from something else. It’s a quality or characteristic that’s intrinsic and connected to a person or thing. Inherent powers are the powers that courts naturally possess and use to ensure complete justice.
Even when the conditions of Res Sub Judice under Section 10 of CPC don’t exactly fit, a civil court has an inherent power under Section 151 to stop a lawsuit in order to ensure fairness. Courts can also combine different lawsuits involving the same parties and substantially the same issue. In the case of Bokaro and Ramgur Ltd. vs. State of Bihar and Another (1962), the matter was about property ownership. The court, using its authority, combined various cases dealing with the same issue.
The purpose of doctrine of Res Sub Judice under Section 10 of CPC is to prevent conflicting decisions from different courts in the same matter. To avoid this, courts can order the consolidation of two lawsuits. In the case of Anurag and Co. and Anr. vs. Additional District Judge and Others, it was explained that suits can be consolidated under Section 151 to achieve justice. This helps parties by reducing the number of cases, delays and expenses. It also saves them from presenting the same evidence in different places.
A decree made against the rules of Section 10 isn’t invalid, so it can’t be completely ignored. It’s important to understand that only the trial itself, not the start of the later lawsuit, is restricted by this section. However, parties can choose to give up this right. So, if parties agree to continue with the later lawsuit after waiving their rights, they can’t later question the legitimacy of the following proceedings.
Interim orders are temporary orders given for a short time before the final decision. A stay order under Section 10 doesn’t stop the court from issuing interim orders. So, courts can still make temporary orders like attaching property or issuing injunctions.
Res Sub Judice under CPC is a legal principle that prevents the simultaneous trial of two similar cases in different courts. If a matter is already under consideration in one court, a second court with similar jurisdiction cannot proceed with a case involving the same issues and parties.
This principle of Res Sub Judice under Section 10 of CPC aims to avoid conflicting decisions and ensure fairness. It prohibits two separate proceedings over identical matters, safeguarding judicial efficiency and preventing parties from facing multiple legal actions for the same dispute.
Attention all law students!
Are you tired of missing out on internship, job opportunities and law notes?
Well, fear no more! With 45,000+ students already on board, you don't want to be left behind. Be a part of the coolest legal community around!
Join our WhatsApp Groups (Click Here) and Telegram Channel (Click Here) and get instant notifications.