Legal Maxim

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Literal Meaning

A matter judged




Section 11 of the Civil Procedure Code defines the doctrine of Res Judicata is the matter which has already been judged. It means that no court will have the power to try any fresh suit or issues which have been already settled in the former suit between the same parties. This doctrine is based on the principle that if the matter is already decided by the competent court then no one has the right to reopen it with the subsequent suit. It is applied by the court where issues directly and substantially involved between the same parties in the former and present suit, are the same.

This principle rests on two principles:

  • i. one should not be vexed twice for the same cause; and
  • ii. there should be finality to litigation.

Where there has been an executable judgment between the parties, the rule of res judicata will prevent a fresh suit between them for the same relief.


A sues B on Cause of Action C, but A loses. Therefore, A may not try for better luck by initiating a new lawsuit against B on C.

Case Laws

In Manohar Lal vs. Seth Hiralal, it was held that a court cannot proceed with the subsequently instituted suit since the provisions contained in Section 10 of the Civil Procedure Code are mandatory, and no discretion is left with the court.

In Direct Recruit Class vs. the State of Maharashtra And Ors., the Supreme Court held that “A dispute raised by a petition under Article 32 of the Constitution must be held to be barred by principles of res judicata including the rule of constructive res judicata underlying Explanation IV of Section 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure, if the same has been earlier decided by a competent court by a judgment which became final.”

In Supreme Court Employees’ Welfare vs. Union of India And Anr., it was held that “When it is said that a previous decision is res judicata, it is meant that the right claimed has been adjudicated upon and cannot again be placed in a contest between the same parties. A previous decision of a competent Court on facts which are the foundation of the right and the relevant law applicable to the determination of the transaction which is the foundation of the right and the relevant law applicable to the determination of the transactions which is the source of the right is res judicata.

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