The English Common Law System gave birth to the concept of res judicata. The key principle of judicial consistency drives the Common Law system. Res judicata initially appeared in Common Law's Code of Civil Procedure, and then in the Indian Legal System. The doctrine of res judicata will strike the suit if either of the parties in a case approaches the same court for a judgement on the same issue. Res judicata is also used in administrative law. It aids in the administration of the Judiciary's efficiency in working and disposing of cases. When there are many petitions filed in the same or another Indian court with the same parties and facts, the theory of res judicata comes into play. Parties to a lawsuit may file the same suit many times in order to harass the opposing party's reputation and obtain money twice. As a result, the doctrine of res judicata plays a significant function and relevance in the Code of Civil Procedure in order to avoid such overloads and unnecessary cases.
Res means “subject matter” and judicata means “adjudged” or decided and together it means “a matter adjudged”.
In simpler words, the thing has been judged by the court, the issue before a court has already been decided by another court and between the same parties. Hence, the court will dismiss the case as it has been decided by another court. Res judicata applies to both civil and criminal legal systems. No suit which has been directly or indirectly tried in a former suit can be tried again.
Example: ‘A’ sued ‘B’ as he didn’t pay rent. ‘B’ pleaded for the lessening of rent on the ground as the area of the land was less than the mentioned on the lease. The Court found that the area was greater than shown in the lease. The area was excess and the principles of res judicata will not be applied.
The notion of res judicata aims to improve the administration of justice in a fair and honest manner while also preventing the abuse of the law. When a litigant wants to bring a subsequent lawsuit on the same topic after receiving a judgement in a previous case involving the same parties, the principle of res judicata applies. This applies not only to the precise claims made in the first instance, but also to claims that could have been made during the same case in numerous jurisdictions.
Pre-requisites for Res Judicata
Prerequisites of res judicata includes:
A judicial decision by proficient court or tribunal,
Final and binding and
Any decision made on the merits
A fair hearing
Earlier decision right or wrong is not relevant.
Nature and Scope of Res Judicata
Res judicata includes two concepts of claim preclusion and issue preclusion. After a definitive judgement on the merits has been reached in civil action, the parties cannot sue each other again. For instance, if a plaintiff wins or loses a case against the defendant in case A, he will almost certainly be unable to sue the defendant in case B based on the same facts and occurrences. Even if the facts and circumstances were the same in a different court. Issue preclusion, on the other hand, forbids the relitigation of legal questions that have already been decided by the judge in a previous case.