Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: Rajesh Kumar, J., allowed the petition filed by the petitioner stating that the tribunal has failed to pass a reasoned order by considering the evidence and pleading of the parties.

In the pertinent case, the petitioner moved to this Court for quashing of the award passed in Reference Case No. 34 of 2014 whereby the reference was in favor of the respondent, directing the petitioner to reinstate the service of the respondent as a daily wager.

The counsel for the petitioner submitted that even after passing an order for representation, the respondent has kept silent in this matter and after the lapse of 16 years, an industrial dispute was raised. Further, an award was passed which ordered for reinstatement of the workman as daily wager and option has been given for regularization but with no direction.

The Court held that from the perusal of the award it is observed that during the pleadings, neither any documents were exhibited nor any witnesses were examined and the Tribunal had passed its order only relying upon the judgment of Patna High Court passed in CWJC No. 4115 of 1997. The Court also observed the following :

It is trite that principle of res-judicata applies often in the case of Industrial Dispute. If there was an order in favour of the workman then the reference was not maintainable. The Tribunal is supposed to answer any reference by considering the evidence and pleading of the parties.”

In view of the above, the Court found that the impugned award passed in Reference Case is not sustainable and stands quashed as the Tribunal has passed the order without considering the pleading and evidence of the party. The Court also observed that the respondent was removed from daily wager w.e.f. March, 1997 and reference are of the year 2014 i.e. after a lapse of more than 16 years. In this manner as well, the dispute has become stale and requires no adjudication.[Employers in relation to the Management of UCO Bank v. Surendra Ramani, 2019 SCC OnLine Jhar 1118, decided on 26-08-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: Sudhanshu Dhulia, J. dismissed the instant writ petition where the petitioner sought mandamus to command respondent not to demolish the construction of his residential house.

The disputed facts were that the constructed house of the petitioner was part of Gaon Sabha earlier. Subsequently, the land came under jurisdiction of Nagar Panchayat, and thereafter the petitioner received a notice under Section 4 of the U.P. Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants) Act, 1972, to which he replied and ultimately the Prescribed Authority found the petitioner to be in unauthorized occupation and passed an order for his eviction. The order was challenged by the petitioner in an appeal before the District Judge, Haridwar.

Therefore the appeal of the petitioner was allowed by District Judge merely on technical grounds such as that the notice which was given to the petitioner under Section 4 of the U.P. Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants), 1972 did not elaborate or disclose the land. The trial court also gave finding in favor of the petitioner that the Additional Sub Divisional Magistrate who had passed the eviction order was not the Prescribed Authority and all the proceedings were beyond his jurisdiction.

The Court observed that the order passed earlier was not on the merits of the case hence the rights were not determined. Hence the petitioner was eventually asked to vacate the land which was disputed, aggrieved by which he filed the writ.

Tapan Singh, counsel for the petitioner submitted that there was already a judicial determination in the favour of the petitioner, as to his rights on the land and the fresh notices for eviction and demolition were alleged to be illegal. They basically relied upon the judgment passed by the District Judge.

The Court in such circumstances observed that, in the earlier case, the appeal of the petitioner was allowed on a technicality, such as the validity of the notice and the jurisdiction of the authority. There was no determination on the merit of the case. Hence the new proceedings were therefore not barred. But further, it stated that relief sought by the petitioner was out of the purview of the Court by the way of writ and thus the petitioner was directed to apply to a competent Civil Court.[Mansab Ali v. Nagar Panchayat Landhaura, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 588, decided on 05-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Sandeep K. Shinde, J. dismissed an appeal filed against the decree of prosecution passed in a civil suit. While dismissing the appeal the Court answered one substantial question of law — In a case of rejection of first suit on the ground that the same was premature, and not on merits; whether the finding rendered in the first suit would be binding on the parties as well as the trial Judge in the second suit on the ground of res judicata?

In the present case, the plaintiff had filed the first suit for possession of the suit property against her brothers-in-law based on the will of her father-in-law. However, the suit was dismissed on the ground that it was premature as the will was being proved in a different proceeding before the court. Subsequently, when the plaintiff filed the second suit, the trial court decreed her suit and granted a decree of possession. The defendants filed the present appeal thereagainst.

The defendants, represented by Rakesh Bhatkar, Advocate, argued that the matter was barred by the principle of res judicata as the first suit filed by the plaintiff had been dismissed. Per contra, V.S. Sawant instructed by P.M. Jadhav, Advocate appearing for the plaintiff submitted that since the earlier matter was not decided on merits, therefore, res judicata did not apply.

Explaining the law on the subject, the High Court observed: “It is not that every matter decided in a former suit, can be pleaded as res judicata in a subsequent suit. To consider a matter ‘res judicata’, one of the conditions is, the matter directly and substantially in issue in the subsequent suit must have been heard and finally decided by the Court in the first suit. To support the plea of res judicata, it is not enough that the same matter shall be in issue. It is also important that the matter was heard and finally decided.

It was explained further: “The expression ‘heard and finally decided’ refers to a matter on which the Court, having exercised its judicial mind, has recorded a finding and arrived at a decision on a contested matter.”

Following the ratio of the Supreme Court decision in Sheodan Singh v. Daryao Kunwar, AIR 1966 SC 1332 and considering the facts of the present case, the High Court held: “since the rejection of the first suit on the ground that the same was premature and not on merits, the findings rendered in the first suit are not binding on the parties, as well as, on the learned trial Judge in the second suit on the ground of res judicata.” The question was answered accordingly and the appeal was dismissed. [Shrikant Waman Pawaskar v. Deepali Dinanath Pawaskar, Second Appeal No. 795 of 2005, decided on 08-03-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Manipur High Court: Kh. Nobin Singh, J. allowed civil revision petition questioning the validity and correctness of the order passed by the Civil Judge, Senior Division, Imphal East.

In the present case, a suit was instituted by the petitioner in a land dispute, without the originals of the documents being filed in support of his case. When he realised his mistake, he filed an application praying for leave to file original documents which was rejected on the ground that the sufficient cause for non-production of the documents was not shown and that the provision of law under which the application had been filed, was not mentioned in the application. The second application was filed by the petitioner stating that he simply signed the application drafted by his counsel and due to lack of communication and under the impression that since the copies of the documents had been filed, their originals would be allowed to be filed without any objection. The Court of Civil Judge, Senior Division dismissed the application on the ground that the application was barred by the principles of ‘res judicata’ being a successive application in the same court on the same facts. Aggrieved thereby, the petitioner filed the instant civil revision petition before the High Court.

The Court observed, “the earlier application had been rejected on technical grounds and not on merits.” Reliance was placed on the judgment of the Supreme Court in Kewal Chand Mimani v. S.K. Sen, (2001) 6 SCC 512, where it was held, “if the earlier suit had not been decided on merits, the mere dismissal thereof could be of no help in invoking the principles of res judicata.”

The Court held that the principles of ‘res judicata’ would not be applicable in the instant case as the same applies to a case “where the earlier application or for that matter, a suit or any petition has been decided on merit and that too, between the same parties.”

Thus, the petition was allowed and parties were directed to appear before the Civil Judge, Senior Division, Imphal West.[Moiranthem Basanta Singh v. Thockchom Mangol Singh, 2019 SCC OnLine Mani 63, decided on 02-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: This writ petition was filed before a Divison Bench of Pankaj Kumar Jaiswal and Dr Yogendra Kumar Srivastava, JJ., for issuance of direction to respondent to consider the claim of petitioners for providing compensation in lieu of acquisition of plot situated in Village Pratap Patti District Varanasi in accordance with the provisions of Land Acquisition Act, 1894 along with interest and other consequential benefits.

Repondent submitted that petitioner on an earlier occasion filed a writ petition which was dismissed by the Court. Both the instant and earlier writ petitions were seeking similar reliefs which was dismissed and instant petition being filed with same cause of action could not have been entertained as the underlying principle under Order 23 Rule 1 of the Civil Procedure Code.

Catena of cases were referred to for understanding the settled principle that though the Code does not apply to writ proceedings but it may be extended to the same in the interest of administration of justice. Allahabad High Court Rules, 1952 were mentioned wherein Rule 7 of Chapter 22 specifically barred filing of a second application under Article 226 on the same facts.

High Court noted the specific bar in the aforementioned rule of the High Court Rules, 1952 and relied on the case of Forward Construction Co. v. Prabhat Mandal, (1986) 1 SCC 100 where it was held that the order dismissing the first writ petition operates as res judicata between the parties and the person against whom the order has been passed has got no right to file a second petition on the same set of facts and in light of the underlying principle in Civil Procedure Code which were founded on public policy, no second writ application could have been filed. Therefore, this writ petition was dismissed. [Pawan Kumar Singh v. State of U.P., 2019 SCC OnLine All 1777, order dated 13-02-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: The Division Bench of Sanjay Karol, CJ and Arindam Lodh, J. dismissed an appeal filed against the judgment rendered by trial court dismissing a civil suit.

The trial court dismissed the suit on grounds of res judicata. It was found that the issue of declaration of title over the suit land had already been decided in an earlier judgment. Furthermore, the judgment in the earlier suit was challenged in appeal before the High Court, but the appeal was dismissed and the earlier judgment attained finality.

The High Court observed that a subsequent suit, though by another person, but dealing with same subject matter, is hit by the principle of res judicata. The issue in the present suit was directly and substantially in issue in the earlier suit. It was stated that all litigations must come to an end. In such circumstances, the court found no reason to interfere with the trial court’s judgment. Thus, the appeal was dismissed. [Shayamal Bhattacharjee v. State of Tripura, 2019 SCC OnLine Tri 2, decided on 02-01-2019]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Sri Lanka Court of Appeal: This appeal was filed before a 2-Judge Bench comprising of A.H.M.D. Nawaz and E.A.G.R. Amarasekara, JJ.

Facts of the case were such that District Judge dismissed the plaintiff’s action on the premise that the plaintiff’s action was barred by the law of res judicata. Plaintiff had instituted this action seeking a declaration of title to the land and ejectment of defendant therefrom. Defendant contended that plaintiff had filed two actions on the same cause of action which were dismissed and thus the action before the district court was res judicata. It was submitted that the relationship between the plaintiff and defendant of licensor and licensee had already been terminated in the previous action and accordingly was decided against plaintiff against which he did not prefer an appeal thus, he could not file this action to terminate the relationship again.

Court of Appeal was of the view that one of the actions filed by plaintiff was wrongly decided but since there was no appeal filed against it, the purported cause of action in the present case becomes res judicata. The Court also noted that it cannot suo motu act in a revision to change the judgment wrongly decided since it dated back to 1997. Therefore, this appeal was dismissed. [Jalin Pedi Durayalage Manuel v. R.W. Pina, C.A. 425 of 2000 (F), decided on 14-12-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: A Bench comprising of N.V. Ramana and M.M. Shantanagoudar, JJ., dismissed an appeal filed against the judgment of a Division Bench of Madras High Court whereby it allowed a letters patent appeal filed by the plaintiff in a partition suit.

The plaintiff filed a suit in regard to a property dispute wherein he prayed for partition of the subject property. The trial court decreed the suit, which decision was reversed by the first appellate court on an appeal by the defendant. The plaintiff then filed a letters patent appeal thereagainst which was allowed by the said Division Bench. The facts of the matter were that earlier, the defendant and father of the plaintiff were co-defendants in two original suits relating to the same subject property filed against them. In the said suits, the court had decided in favour of the defendant’s title over the subject property. Now, therefore, in the present suit, the defendant claims applicability of the doctrine of res judicata against the plaintiff as the father of the plaintiff was a co-defendant with him in the suits wherein his title was declared over the said property.

The Supreme Court, referring to a plethora of judgments reiterated the principles for the applicability of the doctrine of res judicata. The Court cited Mahboob Sahab v. Syed Ismail, (1995) 3 SCC 693 wherein the Supreme Court considering the applicability o the said doctrine between co-defendants held that the four conditions must be satisfied, namely-

  1. There must be a conflict of interest between defendants concerned;
  2. It must be necessary to decide the conflict in order to give reliefs which the plaintiff claims;
  3. The question between the defendants must have been finally decided, and
  4. The co-defendants were necessary or proper parties in the former suit.

The Court reiterated that if a plaintiff cannot get his claimed relief without trying and deciding a case between the co-defendants, the court will try and decide the case in its entirety including the conflict of interest between the co-defendants and the co-defendants will be bound by the decree. But if the relief given to the plaintiff does not require or involve a decision of any case between co-defendants, the co-defendants will not be bound between each other.

On the facts of the instant case, the Court found that all the above conditions were not present. Therefore, no res judicata was applicable between the parties. In light of the above and other holdings, the appeal was dismissed. [Govindammal v. Vaidiyanathan,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2117, decided on 23-10-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: A writ petition was filed by Union of India and the Railway Administration before a  Division Bench comprising of B. Amit Sthalekar and Jayant Banerji, JJ., with a prayer to quash the order passed by Central Administrative Tribunal where original application filed by respondent to set aside order debarring petitioner from giving RRB exams, was allowed.

Facts of the case are that respondent applied for the post of Junior Engineer-II (Mechanical), Junior Engineer-II (Mechanical CADCAM) and Junior Engineer-II (Carriage and Wagon) through RRB. Respondent gave a written test in which he was declared passed. After the completion of the verification process when the final results were declared respondent’s name was not found. After inquiry by respondent to the concerned authority he got to know that he had been barred for lifetime from all RRB exams. It was informed to Nodal RRB that RRB Chennai had informed that he had been debarred. RRB Chennai informed him that it had not debarred him but the same had been done by Mumbai RRB. Later, it was found that RRB Mumbai barred respondent on the ground that he submitted two applications with different photographs for post of Apprentice Engineer (Mechanical). Respondent had challenged this order in his application. Petitioner approached Tribunal where Tribunal favoured respondent holding that order of debarment was unreasonable, unjust, and arbitrary and his natural rights had been violated. Therefore, respondent’s original application was allowed and concerned authority was directed to consider the candidature of respondent.

The railway prayed for setting aside of Tribunal’s order on the ground that respondent had committed fraud on Railway Authority by submitting two application. Petitioner submitted that earlier respondent had filed an original application before Chandigarh Tribunal where it was dismissed and thus original application was filed before Central Administrative Tribunal and thus was not maintainable.

The High Court was of the view that Chandigarh Tribunal dismissed the original application with a liberty to file a fresh application and the issues, in this case, were not decided by Tribunal, therefore, this will not act as res judicata. Petitioner failed to show any record when the debarment of respondent was communicated to him. Therefore, the court found no merit in the petition and the petition was dismissed. [Union of India v. Javier,2018 SCC OnLine All 1782, order dated 05-10-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Valmiki Mehta, J. dismissed a regular first appeal filed under Section 96 CrPC, against the judgment of the trial court whereby appellant’s suit was rejected as barred by res judicata.

The suit for declaration, partition, possession and permanent injunction was filed by the appellant relating to the property purported to be received by him on the partition of the property after the death of his father. The respondents filed an application under Order VII Rule 11 CPC pleading that identical issue of ownership of the suit property had been raised and decided against the appellant in an earlier suit for injunction. The trial court held that the question of ownership of the suit property was directly in issue in the said injunction suit. The instant suit was rejected by the trial court as barred by res judicata. Aggrieved thus, the appellant was in appeal.

The High Court, in order to settle the issue, referred to various decisions of the Supreme Court and observed that once in a suit for injunction, title is in issue and decided, the said finding of the title will operate as res judicata in a subsequent suit where title is an issue. The Court was of the view that since the claim of ownership of appellant in the suit property was already decided against the appellant in the earlier suit, therefore, the trial court was justified in dismissing the present suit being barred by res judicata. In view of the discussion as mentioned hereinabove, the High Court held the appeal to be sans merit. The appeal was held to be an abuse of process of law and was dismissed with costs amounting to Rs 25000. [Randhir Singh v. Satish Kumar,2018 SCC OnLine Del 9879, dated 16-07-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: A petition filed under Article 227 of the Constitution against the order of the Additional District Judge whereby he allowed respondents’ application for adducing additional evidence, was allowed by a Single Judge Bench comprising of Tarlok Singh Chauhan, J.

The matter related to a Will and mutation of certain properties. The parties were contending a suit in regard to the same in the lower courts. In the said suit, the respondents filed an application before the Additional District Judge for adducing additional evidence under Order 41 Rule 27 CPC which was allowed. Aggrieved by the same, the petitioners preferred the instant petition.

The High Court perused the record and found that earlier the respondents had filed an application before the trial judge for producing the mutation under Order 8 Rule 1-A of CPC which was dismissed. Hence, the same applied as res judicata against the similar relief sought in subsequent application as the order of trial court was never assailed by the respondents. Further, the documents sought to be produced now were already in the knowledge of the respondents being public documents as asserted by the respondents themselves. The Court held that for seeking relief under Order 41 Rule 27, it was necessary for the party seeking such relief to have exercised due diligence in not having faulted to produce documents at an earlier stage. Duly diligent efforts are the requirement for a party seeking to use the adjudicatory mechanism to attain an anticipated relief. However, in the instant case, as noted above, the respondents were not diligent in producing the documents at the appropriate stage even when it could have been done. Thus, the Court found that it was not a case where benefit under Order 41 Rule 27 ought to have been granted to the respondents. Hence, the petition was allowed and the impugned order was set aside. [Rattan Chand v. Duni Chand, 2018 SCC OnLine HP 613, dated 21-5-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: While deciding the points of reference as laid before the Court in a set of writ petitions filed under Article 226 and 227 of the Constitution, a Full Judge Bench comprising of Subhro Kamal Mukherjee, CJ, B.V. Nagarathna, J. and Aravind Kumar, J. held that a second writ petition assailing the same detention order is maintainable on fresh grounds or new grounds.

The instant order of reference arose under provisions of the Karnataka Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Drugs Offenders, Gamblers, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders and Slum-Grabbers Act, 1985. Three points were referred to the High Court for appropriate orders. The Court decided on all the three points in seriatim.

On the point of maintainability of a second writ petition challenging the detention order, when the first one was already dismissed, the High Court held that a second writ petition based on the same grounds which were raised in the first petition is not maintainable on the principles of res judicata. However, it is maintainable if it is based on fresh grounds or those different from the ones taken in the first petition.

On the second point, it was held that the non-mentioning of the period of detention in the order of detention would not vitiate the same. However, in such a case the detenu could not be detained after a maximum period of twelve months as provided under Section 13 of the Act.

Lastly, the High Court held that there was no nexus between Sections 3(1) and 3(2) of the Act, as Section 3(1) relates to the order of detention passed by the State Government, and

Section 3(2) relates to the order as passed by the delegated Authority. And the time period mentioned in both the provisions, have no nexus either. The time mentioned in the first provision relates to the period of detention and that mentioned in the second provision relates to the period of delegation.

The points of reference were answered accordingly and the writ petitions were directed to be placed before the appropriate bench. [Abdul Razak v. State of Karnataka, 2017 SCC OnLine Kar 2855, dated 7.10.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: A Bench comprising of- Shivakant Prasad, J. dismissed the suit filed by the plaintiff on the ground that it was barred by the principle of res judicata.

The plaintiff filed a suit against the defendant bank on the ground that the debit balance shown by it in plaintiff’s account was void and illegal. Defendant’s plea was that the suit was barred on two grounds- firstly, by the law of limitation, and secondly, by the principle of res judicata, as same issues were raised before the State and National Consumer Forums. Plaintiff contended that the suit was not barred by law of limitation, as it wrongly invoked the jurisdiction of the consumer forum, so the time consumed in those proceedings should be excluded. Secondly, the suit is not barred by res judicata, as issues were raised before State and National Consumer Forums, which are not ‘Courts’, so Section 11 of the Civil Procedure Code is not applicable.

The Court accepted the plaintiff’s first argument, relating to the law of limitation, however it didn’t agree with the contention that State and National Consumer Forums are not courts. The Court held that these forums are presided over by Judges and they are authorized to take evidence-on-affidavits.  These bodies have trappings of courts and are adjudicatory bodies, though not in strict sense, but are judiciary set up by the government to protect the consumer rights. The Court then examined whether the issues raised before it were the same in the proceedings before the said forums. After perusing the pleadings of the parties, the evidence-on-record, and the judgments of the said forums, it observed that the issues involved before it are substantially the issues before the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and attained their finality with the decision of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. Therefore, the Court dismissed the suit holding that the previously decided issues cannot be reopened before it. [Kesoram Industries Ltd. v. Allahabad Bank, 2017 SCC OnLine Cal 2177, decided on 03/04/2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: A bench of Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh, JJ, while relying upon Mathura Prasad Sarjoo Jaiswal v. Dossibai N.B. Jeejeebhoy, (1970) 1 SCC 613, held that the previous proceedings would operate as res judicata only in respect of issues of facts and not on issues of pure questions of law when the subsequent proceeding is based upon a different cause of action and in respect of different property though between the same parties. The Court further observed that the principle of estoppel operates against parties and not the court and hence nothing comes in the way of a competent court to decide a pure question of law differently if it is so warranted.

In the instant case, it was contended that when, in a petition of 1966, it was already held that the illegitimate sons of a person were not entitled to inherit his property, the court was barred from adjudicating same because the previous judgment would operate as res judicata. Allahabad High Court observed that the previous judgment between the parties was in respect of another subject matter/property, and moreover its finding that illegitimate children of a person are not entitled to inherit his property being finding on issues of law would not operate as res judicata in the subsequent proceedings in respect of other properties. The Court, hence, stating that no equitable principle or estoppel can impede powers of the Court to determine an issue of law correctly in a subsequent suit which relates to another property founded upon a different cause of action though parties may be same, upheld High Court’s reasoning, . [Satyendra Kumar v. Raj Nath Dubey, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 478, 06.05. 2016.]