Jurisdiction of the Courts and Res Judicata (Section 9-14)

Section 9: Courts to try all civil suits unless barred.—

The Courts shall (subject to the provisions herein contained) have jurisdiction to try all suits of a civil nature excepting suits of which their cognisance is either expressly or impliedly barred.


Section 10: Stay of suit.—

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 having 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.


Section 11: Res judicata.—

No Court shall try any suit or issue in which the matter directly and substantially in issue has been directly and substantially in issue in a former suit between the same parties, or between parties under whom they or any of them claim, litigating under the same title, in a Court competent to try such subsequent suit or the suit in which such issue has been subsequently raised, and has been heard and finally decided by such Court.


Section 12: Bar to further suit.—

Where a plaintiff is precluded by rules from instituting a further suit in respect of any particular cause of action, he shall not be entitled to institute a suit in respect of such cause of action in any Court to which this Code applies.


Section 13: When foreign judgment not conclusive.—

A foreign judgment shall be conclusive as to any matter thereby directly adjudicated upon between the same parties or between parties under whom they or any of them claim litigating under the same title except —

(a) where it has not been pronounced by a Court of competent jurisdiction;

(b) where it has not been given on the merits of the case;

(c) where it appears on the face of the proceedings to be founded on an incorrect view of international law or a refusal to recognise the law of [India] in cases in which such law is applicable;

(d) where the proceedings in which the judgment was obtained are opposed to natural justice;

(e) where it has been obtained by fraud;

(f) where it sustains a claim founded on a breach of any law in force in [India].


Section 14: Presumption as to foreign judgments.

The Court shall presume, upon the production of any document purporting to be a certified copy of a foreign judgment, that such judgment was pronounced by a Court of competent jurisdiction, unless the contrary appears on the record; but such presumption may be displaced by proving want of jurisdiction.


IMPORTANT CASE LAWS

1. Nature and Scope of the right to file a civil suit

Ganga Bai v. Vijay Kumar, (1974) 2 SCC 393: There is an inherent right in every person to bring a suit of a civil nature and unless the suit is barred by statute one may, at one’s peril, bring a suit of one’s choice. It is no answer to a suit, howsoever frivolous to claim, that the law confers no such right to sue. A suit for its maintainability requires no authority of law and it is enough that no statute bars the suit.


2. Sub Judice

Indian Bank v. Maharashtra State Coop. Marketing Federation Ltd., (1998) 5 SCC 69: The word “trial” in Section 10 will have to be interpreted and construed keeping in mind the object and nature of that provision and the prohibition to “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”. The object of the prohibition contained in Section 10 is to prevent the courts of concurrent jurisdiction from simultaneously trying two parallel suits and also to avoid inconsistent findings on the matters in issue. The provision is in the nature of a rule of procedure and does not affect the jurisdiction of the court to entertain and deal with the latter suit nor does it create any substantive right in the matters. It is not a bar to the institution of a suit. It has been construed by the courts as not a bar to the passing of interlocutory orders such as an order for consolidation of the latter suit with the earlier suit, or appointment of a receiver or an injunction or attachment before judgment. The course of action which the court has to follow according to Section 10 is not to proceed with the “trial” of the suit but that does not mean that it cannot deal with the subsequent suit any more or for any other purpose. In view of the object and nature of the provision and the fairly settled legal position with respect to passing of interlocutory orders it has to be stated that the word “trial” in Section 10 is not used in its widest sense.


3. Res Judicata

Swamy Atmananda v. Sri Ramakrishna Tapovanam, (2005) 10 SCC 51: The object and purport of the principle of res judicata as contended in Section 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure is to uphold the rule of conclusiveness of judgment, as to the points decided earlier of fact, or of law, or of fact and law, in every subsequent suit between the same parties. Once the matter which was the subject-matter of lis stood determined by a competent court, no party thereafter can be permitted to reopen it in a subsequent litigation. Such a rule was brought into the statute-book with a view to bring the litigation to an end so that the other side may not be put to harassment.

The principle of res judicata envisages that a judgment of a court of concurrent jurisdiction directly upon a point would create a bar as regards a plea, between the same parties in some other matter in another court, where the said plea seeks to raise afresh the very point that was determined in the earlier judgment. 

The doctrine of res judicata is conceived not only in larger public interest which requires that all litigation must, sooner than later, come to an end but is also founded on equity, justice and good conscience.


4. Impact of Foreign Judgements

Alcon Electronics (P) Ltd. v. Celem S.A. of France, (2017) 2 SCC 253: A glance on the enforcement of the foreign judgment, the position at common law is very clear that a foreign judgment which has become final and conclusive between the parties is not impeachable either on facts or law except on limited grounds enunciated under Section 13 CPC. In construing Section 13 CPC we have to look at the plain meaning of the words and expressions used therein and need not look at any other factors. Further, under Section 14 CPC there is a presumption that the foreign court which passed the order is a court of competent jurisdiction which of course is a rebuttable presumption.


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