RES JUDICATA under Civil Procedure Code, 1908: Meaning, Provisions, Principles and Cases

Author-Deepti, MERI Professional and Law Institute


Res Judicata is a principle used in law which is derived from Latin which means ‘a matter judged’. It basically in law means that when a case has been delivered with a judgment which was final then both the parties cannot claim another subsequent proceeding. Its main motive is to promote finality and efficient judicial system.

As per Section 11 of Civil Procedure Code, states that “When a final judgment has been served to a lawsuit by the competent court after adjudication, the same issue cannot be re-litigated in any subsequent suit by any of the two parties.”[1]


  1. Understanding the meaning of Res Judicata

Res Judicata, a fundamental principle in civil procedure, states the idea that when a matter has been decided for the last time by the competent court, it cannot be filed again by either of the parties. This doctrine in law serves several crucial fundamentals within the legal system and providing stability of judicial decisions. It ensures that the parties in a lawsuit are needed to follow the final judgment given by the court preventing the parties from litigating the same issue several times.

  1. Two main Doctrines of Res Judicata
  2. CLAIM PRECLUSION (Merger): This doctrine prevents both the parties from taking the same cause of action or claim to the court again and again if the same matter has been adjudicated already. Once when the final judgment has been given, no party is allowed to adjudicate the same claim subsequently. It includes both the claim that was actually raised and also the claim that could have been raised. The main aim of this doctrine is to prevent both the parties from engaging in piecemeal litigation.
  3. ISSUE PRECLUSION (Collateral estoppel): Like the Claim preclusion prevents the parties to adjudicate the same claim again, this doctrine prevents both parties from re-litigating specific issues that were given judgment in the prior proceeding. Even if the subsequent case involves different cause of action, this doctrine bars re-adjudication the same issue multiple times.

Under the Civil Procedure Code, the application of res judicata is governed by some specific provisions which explains the conditions under which it applies.

Elements of Res Judicata

  1. Final Judgment- Res Judicata applies only when the final judgment has been given by a competent court. A judgment can is only considered final when it contains the rights and obligations of both the parties respectively involved in the lawsuit.
  2. Identity of Parties- Res Judicata can only be applied when the same parties have re-adjudicated the same cause of action. If the parties are not same in the re-litigation then res judicata have no relevance.
  3. Identity of Subject Matter- Res Judicata only applies when the subsequent lawsuit involves the same cause of action as the previous judgment given. This means that the claim in the subsequent case must be substantially similar to those litigated in the prior judgment.
  4. Identity of Cause of Action- The cause of action in the next lawsuit must arise out of the same fact as of the prior lawsuit. In this case, Res Judicata prevents both the parties from splitting or dividing the cause of action and re-adjudicating the claims that have been given in the prior judgment.
  5. Finality of the Judgment- The judgment which was given in the prior lawsuit should be final and binding, which means that it cannot be challenged through appellate process. But there is an exception that Res Judicata does not apply to Judgments that are subject to revision or that can be appealed.
  6. Competency of the Court- The court that gave the final judgment to the lawsuit should have the jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter.

Principles guiding Res Judicata

Under the Civil Procedure Code, several principles guide the application of Res Judicata:

  1. Finality- Res Judicata is based on the principle of finality, which basically means that once a matter had been finally adjudicated by a court, it cannot be appealed further in another court between the same parties. This principle promotes the conclusiveness of a lawsuit’s judgment.
  2. Judicial Efficiency- One of the main aims of Res Judicata is to promote efficiency of judicial system by preventing both the parties of the lawsuit to litigate again and again for no reason which leads to wasting time of the honourable court. By limiting the re-adjudication of claims that have been already served with a judgment to conserve the judicial resources.
  3. Prevention of Multiple Litigation- Res Judicata bars the parties from dividing the causes of actions or changing claims in different proceedings that could have been solved in prior lawsuit. Promoting the fact that all the important issues should be solved in a single lawsuit.
  4. Preservation of Integrity- By binding both the parties to follow the judgment given by the court strictly, Res Judicata plays an important role to maintain this principle by preserving integrity of the judiciary.
  5. Promotion of Fairness- Res Judicata also promotes fairness by giving both the parties with certainty in the judgment of their disputes. Once the matter has been provided with the final judgment, both the parties can conclude with their issue finally being resolved.

Procedural application of Res Judicata under Civil Procedure Code

  1. Identification of prior judgment- The Procedural application of Res Judicata includes to know and find out whether there is a prior judgment given or not which can affect the application for Res Judicata.
  2. essment of identification of parties- If there has been a subsequent lawsuit filed, then it is mandatory to find out details about the applicant parties whether they were involved in the prior judgment or not. Res Judicata only applies when same parties apply the subsequent lawsuit so that both the parties could be prevented from re-adjudicating the same.
  3. Analysis of identity of subject matter and cause of action- There is a requirement to assess whether the subsequent suit have the same claim or cause of action or not i.e. to know whether the claim was given under the prior judgment or not. This includes knowing whether the claim raised has been covered under the prior lawsuit.
  4. Review of finality of the prior judgment- The final judgment which was given must be conclusive enough to apply Res Judicata. The judgment should not need any further review or appeal in any case.
  5. Verification of Competency of the court- It needs to be verified whether the prior judgment which was given by the competent court having the correct jurisdiction or not. Res Judicata cannot be applied if the court which gave the judgment lacked jurisdiction to hear that particular case.
  6. Application of Statutory Provisions- Reference of specific and valid statutory provisions are needed within the Civil Procedure Code that governs the doctrine of Res Judicata. These statutes provide framework to the conditions which governs the application of Res Judicata and provides guidance to its procedure and procedural effects.
  7. Judicial Determination- It is up to the discretion of the honourable court whether to apply Res Judicata or not. Relevant statutes and factors would be considered by the court to determine the application of the doctrine.

Important cases guiding Res Judicata

  1. Avtar Singh v. Jagjit Singh- In this case a plaint was filed regarding the court’s arbitration in the revenue court by one of the parties, sustaining the objection the plaint was returned to the respective party. Giving the reason that the revenue court was not having the jurisdiction to try the suit. Hence, it was concluded that the suit was rejected by following the guidelines mentioned under the doctrine of Res Judicata.
  2. Devilal Modi v. Sales Tax Officer- In this leading case, the validity of an assessment was challenged under Article 226. The Petition was dismissed mentioning about the facts and merits. The same appeal was dismissed by the honourable Supreme Court mentioning the same issue. Another writ petition was filed in the High Court but still there was rejection of the appeal. The Supreme Court made the final decision that the same case was rejected under the guidelines mentioned under Res Judicata,
  3. Mathura prasad v. Dossabai N.B. Jeejeebhoy- It was held that Res Judicata can not be operated in the subsequent proceeding. If there is different question of law as of the previous one then Res Judicata cannot be applied. To apply Res Judicata the decision given should be held by the court with competency. It was also stated that if the issue of law gives rise to right then Res Judicata is not applicable.

Significance and Implications of Res Judicata

  1. Judicial efficiency- Res Judicata prevents both sides of the parties to re-adjudicate same issue or claims again and again that have already been provided with a judgment in form of appeal which promotes efficiency in judicial system and save resources. Courts would be able to focus on other and new cases rather than wasting time on same lawsuit.
  2. Fairness and equality- This doctrine helps to maintain equality and fairness among all the parties by ensuring that either of the party cannot re-litigate the issue and maintain same rules and regulations for both the parties. It provides parties with closure and prevents waste of time and exploitation of rights.
  3. Stability of legal system- Res Judicata promotes the stability of legal judiciary system by providing proper framework and consistency I judicial decisions. Once a court provides judgment to a case it helps to set a precedent for the upcoming cases to establish clear rules and standards.
  4. Prevention of Forum Shopping- It promotes respect for the judgment making system of the court binds parties to adjudicate in good faith and not to play unfair. Res Judicata discourages both the parties to practice Forum Shopping i.e. litigants applying lawsuit in court where they think the judgment will be in their favour after an unfavourable judgment has been passed rendered.
  5. Preservation of Judicial integrity- By preventing the parties to re-litigate and to respect the judgment of the court by not repeatedly challenging the decisions. It helps to maintain the authority, respect and integrity of the court by being a watchdog of the judgment passed.


In Conclusion, Res Judicata is a fundamental principle which is covered under framework of the Civil Procedure Code, embodying the principles of finality, fairness, and efficiency which helps in perfect administration of justice. By barring parties from re-litigating again and again saving time of the court. Res Judicata serves its main aim to save resources of the court to provide judgment when already concluding judgment has been provided to both the parties. Furthermore, it sets legal precedent and guidelines for next cases and enhances confidence of people in the judicial system. Res Judicata is not only a doctrine of law but a cornerstone of judiciary system, it ensures that the integrity of the judiciary system is maintained.


  1. Kumar S, “Res Judicata Can’t Be Decided in Application under Order VII Rule 11 CPC: Supreme Court” Live Law (September 18, 2023);; accessed March 2, 2024
  2. Paliwala M, “Meaning, Nature, Scope of Legal Doctrine of Res Judicata under Section 11 of Code of Civil Procedure” (iPleaders, September 1, 2023); ; accessed March 2, 2024
  3. M S, “Doctrine of Res Judicata: Sec 11 of Civil Procedure Code” (CLATalogue, August 3, 2023); ; accessed March 3, 2024
  4. “Free Law” Free Law (July 21, 2023); ; accessed March 3, 2024

[1] The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, s11

Leave a Reply