Doctrine of Res Judicata and Res Sub Judice

2 Sep 2021  Read 712 Views

The courts take help of several common law and theories to maintain balance and improve our judiciary system, the main aim of these theories is to access “judicial efficiency” and to guarantee that a productive pace of justice is attained and maintained in the courtroom. The  Doctrine of Res Sub Judice and Res Judicata are two of these concepts covered in this article. 

Res Judicata is a Latin term that refers to a case that has been decided. The theory of res judicata prevents or precludes continuing litigation of the same matter between the same parties when a  case has already been resolved and the final judgement has been rendered such that the matter is no longer subject to appeal. 

Res Sub judice is a Latin maxim that translates as "under judgement." The rule of the sub judice is based on public policy, which forbids the plaintiff from filing two parallel claims on the same subject matter, limiting the possibilities of two courts issuing contradicting rulings. The theory of  Res Sub judice exists to avoid duplication of processes and to avoid two contradictory rulings.  

The concept of res sub judice is discussed in Section 10 of Civil Procedure Code, 1882, while the concept of res judicata is discussed in Section 11 of CPC. Section -10 establishes the norm for cases to have stayed while they are being considered or adjudicated by a court. Section-11, on the other hand, specifies that the rule applies to a case that has already been decided. It prohibits the trial of a suit or an issue in which the directly and significantly in question topic has already been decided in previous litigation. 

Res Judicata

An issue that has been determined cannot be brought up again, either in the same court or in a  different court, under the doctrine of Res Judicata. Because it prevents or forbids any additional  claims after the final decision, it is also known as "claim preclusion." It's a common-law practice that prevents matters from being re-litigated in court between the same parties. 

The goal of Res Judicata is to prevent:

∙ Injustice to the parties in a dispute that was meant to be resolved by a decision that provided finality and barred any future claims. 

∙ Court resources are being used unnecessarily. 

∙ Multiplying judgments as additional claims would result in multiple different decisions on the same issue, causing confusion. 

∙ Obtaining damages twice from the defendant for the same harm. 

It should be emphasised, however, that this does not include the appeals procedure, which is regarded as the proper means to contest a decision. The res judicata principle will apply to the judgement once the appeal procedure has been exhausted or is prohibited by limitation. Even in a  subsequent stage of the same proceedings, the theory of res judicata can be utilised. The court decided in the matter of Y.B. Patil v. Y.L. Patil1that once an order is made during the course of the proceedings, it becomes final and is therefore binding on the parties at any later stage of the same proceedings. 

Res Sub-judice

The principle of res sub-judice discourages a court from proceeding with the trial of any suit in which the concern in matter is directly or substantially the same as a previously instituted suit between the same parties, and the court in which the issue was previously instituted has the power to grant the relief sought. This regulation only applies to the suit's trial, not to the institution. It has no bearing on the court's ability to issue interim orders such as injunctions or stays. It does, however, apply to revision and appeals. 

The aim of this regulation is to keep courts from being overburdened with cases. It is also hoped that the plaintiff would not receive two distinct rulings in his favour from different courts or two conflicting judgments. It also guarantees that the plaintiff is not subjected to undue harassment.  The objective of the law is to limit the plaintiff to a single statute, avoiding the possibility of two conflicting rulings by the same court in the same case. 

The purpose of Section 10 is to prevent two courts from making conflicting rulings in the same case. To get around this, the courts might compel the two lawsuits to be consolidated. It was argued in the case of Anurag and Co. and Anr. vs. Additional District Judge and Others 2  that consolidation of actions is ordered under Section 151 for the sake of fulfilling the objectives of justice since it saves the party from several lawsuits, delays, and expenditures. The parties are also spared from having to produce the same evidence again. 


With the increasing number of cases in the courts and the increased burden on the courts as a  result of several frivolous and repetitive lawsuits, it is unavoidable that these two doctrines be strictly followed in order to ensure the smooth operation of the judicial system and to provide justice to those who are in need. These teachings are not to be utilised for the goal of avoiding justice, and they must not be used for that purpose. Rather, the goal is to improve the efficiency of the judicial system.

In any event, the Indian judiciary is already overwhelmed with cases, and if parties start filing lawsuits twice, one can only imagine how difficult it will be for the courts to reach a verdict in all of them. These theories are crucial in ensuring that the courts' time is efficiently spent and that justice is attained for all. They do this by guaranteeing that a lawsuit ends when the judgement is rendered and that the same litigation on the same subject matter is not filed more than once. This guarantees that the judicial system runs smoothly.

1 1977 AIR 392, 1977 SCR (1) 320

2 AIR 2006 Raj 119, 2006 (2) WLC 160

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