Chhattisgarh High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: In an appeal against the decision of Trial Court of dismissing the suit mainly on the ground that the suit preferred by the appellant was barred under the provisions of Section 11 Code of Civil Procedure,1908 (CPC), Arvind Singh Chandel, J. has observed that the suit preferred by the appellant is not barred under the provisions of Section 11 CPC and the Trial Court dismissed the suit only on the ground of res judicata and did not decide the other issues on merit.

In this case, the appellant filed a suit for possession of the house and also for damages on the basis of relationship of landlord and tenant, however, it was dismissed. Since the respondent did not vacate the house, another suit has been preferred by the appellant for vacant possession of the house and for damages. Further, the Trial Court dismissed the suit mainly on the ground that the subsequent suit preferred by the appellant is barred under the provisions of Section 11 CPC.

The Court took note of the ruling in Srihari Hanumandas Totala v. Hemant Vithal Kamat (2021) 9 SCC 99, Jamia Masjid v. K.V. Rudrappa 2021 SCC OnLine SC 792, wherein the Court held that the ingredients to attract Res Judicata are (i) The matter must have been directly and substantially in issue in the former suit; (ii) the matter must be heard and finally decided by the Court in the former suit; (iii) The former suit must be between the same parties or between parties under whom they or any of them claim, litigating under the same title; and (iv) the Court in which the former suit was instituted is competent to try the subsequent suit or the suit in which such issue has been subsequently raised.

The Court further took note of the ruling in Deva Ram v. Ishwar Chand, (1995) 6 SCC 733, wherein the Court observed that the basic requirement for the applicability of rule of res judicata is wanting and, therefore, in the absence of pleadings, in the absence of issues and in the absence of any finding, it is not open to the party to invoke the rule of res judicata.

The Court observed that in the previous suit the appellant never claimed his title over the suit house, and he only claimed himself as the landlord of the suit house on the basis of the will. In the previous suit, directly or indirectly, no question was involved that the plaintiff got title over the house on the basis of the will as there was no issue framed by the Court on this point. Therefore, the finding of the Court in the previous suit regarding execution of the will was incidental.

The Court also observed that in the previous suit the question, whether the plaintiff was the title holder of the suit house or not was not involved directly or indirectly. Further, the previous suit was filed under the provisions of Section 12(1)(d) of the Accommodation Control Act for eviction of the tenant from the suit house on the basis of bona fide need of the landlord. Moreover, the Court deciding the previous suit was not competent to decide the title of the appellant over the suit house directly or indirectly as the suit was preferred by the appellant on the basis of relationship between the parties as landlord and tenant only.

The Court further noted that the present suit has been preferred by the appellant for getting vacant possession of the suit house and damages claiming himself as the title holder of the suit house. Therefore, the finding of the Court below that the present suit preferred by the plaintiff is barred under the provisions of Section 11 CPC is not in accordance with law, hence, it held that the present suit preferred by the plaintiff is not barred under the provisions of Section 11 CPC.

[Santosh Kumar Sahu v. Smt. Basanti Bai, 2022 SCC OnLine Chh 1556, decided on 2.9.2022]


Advocates who appeared in this case :

Raja Sharma, Advocate, for the Appellant;

Dhirendra Prasad Mishra, Advocate, for the Respondent;

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where the party, in a subsequent petition seeking same relief, had not disclosed the filing of the suit, its dismissal by the Civil Court and the confirmation of the said judgment by the High Court in the writ petition, the bench of SA Nazeeer* and Krishna Murari, JJ has held that the appellants did not come to the court with clean hands and stressed that the parties have to disclose the details of all legal proceedings and litigations either past or present concerning any part of the subject-matter of dispute which is within their knowledge.

Factual Background

After lapse of 34 years from 3 the completion of acquisition proceedings and receiving of award amount, the petitioners had filed the present writ petition challenging the allotment of a portion of the land on the ground that the same has not been acquired by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA).

It was the appellants’ case that since 8 guntas of land had not been acquired, they had partitioned the said property amongst themselves and each of them was in possession of a site formed in this 8 guntas of land. It was argued that when the said 8 guntas of land itself has not been acquired, question of formation of the sites by the BDA in this land and its allotment was illegal.

However, admittedly, the appellants had, in 1999, filed a suit before the Additional City Civil Court against the BDA seeking permanent injunction while pleading identical facts and urging similar grounds. The said suit was dismissed by the trial court. The appeal filed against the said judgment of the trial court was also dismissed by the High Court. The appellants had not disclosed the dismissal of the aforesaid Suit and the appeal in the writ petition.

Analysis

Noticing that the jurisdiction exercised by the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is extraordinary, equitable and discretionary, the Court said that it is imperative that the petitioner approaching the writ court must come with clean hands and put forward all facts before the Court without concealing or suppressing anything.

“A litigant is bound to state all facts which are relevant to the litigation. If he withholds some vital or relevant material in order to gain advantage over the other side then he would be guilty of playing fraud with the court as well as with the opposite parties which cannot be countenanced.”

In order to check multiplicity of proceedings pertaining to the same subject-matter and more importantly to stop the menace of soliciting inconsistent orders through different judicial forums by suppressing material facts either by remaining silent or by making misleading statements in the pleadings in order to escape the liability of making a false statement, the Court held that

“… the parties have to disclose the details of all legal proceedings and litigations either past or present concerning any part of the subject-matter of dispute which is within their knowledge. In case, according to the parties to the dispute, no legal proceedings or court litigations was or is pending, they have to mandatorily state so in their pleadings in order to resolve the dispute between the parties in accordance with law.”

Important rulings

Prestige Lights Ltd. V. State Bank of India, (2007) 8 SCC 449

It is of utmost necessity that when a party approaches a High Court, he must place all the facts before the Court without any reservation. If there is suppression of material facts on the part of the applicant or twisted facts have been placed before the Court, the writ court may refuse to entertain the petition and dismiss it without entering into merits of the matter.

Udyami Evam Khadi Gramodyog Welfare Sanstha v. State of Uttar Pradesh, (2008) 1 SCC 560

The writ remedy is an equitable one and a person approaching a superior court must come with a pair of clean hands. Such person should not suppress any material fact but also should not take recourse to legal proceedings over and over again which amounts to abuse of the process of law.

K.D. Sharma v. Steel Authority of India Limited, (2008)12 SCC 481

If there is no candid disclosure of relevant and material facts or the petitioner is guilty of misleading the court, his petition may be dismissed at the threshold without considering the merits of the claim.

Ruling

The Court noticed that identical contentions were raised by the appellants in the previous suit and that the said suit was dismissed and the judgment of the civil court was confirmed by the High Court. Hence, since this finding of the High Court has attained finality, the writ court cannot sit in an appeal over the judgment passed by the High Court in the appeal.

Hence, the conclusions reached by the court in the appeal were held to be binding on the appellants.

[K. Jayaram v. Bangalore Development Authority, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1194, decided on 08.12.2021]


Counsels

For appellants: Senior Advocate Prof. Ravivarma Kumar

For BDA: Advocate S.K. Kulkarni


*Judgment by: Justice SA Nazeer

Know Thy Judge | Justice S. Abdul Nazeer

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In an important ruling on Res Judicata, the 3-judge bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud*, Vikram Nath and Hima Kohli, JJ has held that the issues that arise in a subsequent suit may either be questions of fact or of law or mixed questions of law and fact.

“Issues that arise in a subsequent suit may either be questions of fact or of law or mixed questions of law and fact. An alteration in the circumstances after the decision in the first suit, will require a trial for the determination of the plea of res judicata if there arises a new fact which has to be proved. However, the plea of res judicata may in an appropriate case be determined as a preliminary issue when neither a disputed question of fact nor a mixed question of law or fact has to be adjudicated for resolving it.”

“Best method” to decide the question of res judicata:

The court while undertaking an analysis of the applicability of the plea of res judicata determines first, if the requirements of section 11 CPC are fulfilled; and if this is answered in the affirmative, it will have to be determined if there has been any material alteration in law or facts since the first suit was decreed as a result of which the principle of res judicata would be inapplicable.

In Syed Mohd. Salie Labbai (dead) by L.Rs v. Mohd. Hanifa, (1976) 4 SCC 780, it was enunciated that before a plea of res judicata can be given effect, the following conditions must be proved:

(1) that the litigating parties must be the same;

(2) that the subject-matter of the suit also must be identical;

(3) that the matter must be finally decided between the parties; and

(4) that the suit must be decided by a court of competent jurisdiction.

The verdict in Alka Gupta v. Narender Kumar Gupta, (2010) 10 SCC 141, further made clear that

“The plea must be clearly established, more particularly where the bar sought is on the basis of constructive res judicata. The plaintiff who is sought to be prevented by the bar of constructive res judicata should have notice about the plea and have an opportunity to put forth his contentions against the same.”

Twin test for the identification of whether an issue has been conclusively decided in the previous suit is:

  1. The necessity test: Whether the adjudication of the issue was ‘necessary’ for deciding on the principle issue.
  2. The essentiality test: Whether the judgment in the suit is based upon the decision on that issue.

Res Judicata: Question of fact or law or mixed question of law and fact?

It has earlier been held by the Supreme Court that a determination of whether res judicata is attracted raises a mixed question of law and facts [Madhukar D Shende v. Tarabai Aba Shedage, (2002) 2 SCC 85 ; Ram Harakh v. Hamid Ahmed Khan, (1998) 7 SCC 484].

However, Justice K. Ramaswamy writing for a three-judge bench of this court in Sushil Kumar Mehta v. Gobind Ram Bohra, (1990) 1 SCC 193 held that the principle of res judicata cannot be fit into the pigeonhole of ‘mixed question of law and facts’ in every case. Rather, the plea of res judicata would be a question of law or fact or a mixed question of both depending on the issue that is claimed to have been previously decided.

In Mathura Prasad Bajoo Jaiswal v. Dossibai N.B Jeejeebhoy, (1970) 1 SCC 613, it was held that,

“A decision of a competent Court on a matter in issue may be res judicata in another proceeding between the same parties: the “matter in issue” may be an issue of fact, an issue of law, or one of mixed law and fact. An issue of fact or an issue of mixed law and fact decided by a competent Court is finally determined between the parties and cannot be re-opened between them in another proceeding. The previous decision on a matter in issue alone is res judicata: the reasons for the decision are not res judicata.

(…)

The matter in issue, if it is one purely of fact, decided in the earlier proceeding by a competent Court must in a subsequent litigation between the same parties be regarded as finally decided and cannot be reopened. A mixed question of law and fact determined in the earlier proceeding between the same parties may not, for the same reason, be questioned in a subsequent proceeding between the same parties. But, where the decision is on a question of law i.e. the interpretation of a statute, it will be res judicata in a subsequent proceeding between the same parties where the cause of action is the same, for the expression “the matter in issue” in Section 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure means the right litigated between the parties i.e. the facts on which the right is claimed or denied and the law applicable to the determination of that issue. Where, however, the question is one purely of law and it relates to the jurisdiction of the Court or a decision of the Court sanctioning something which is illegal, by resort to the rule of res judicata a party affected by the decision will not be precluded from challenging the validity of that order under the rule of res judicata, for a rule of procedure cannot supersede the law of the land.”

Can res judicata be decided as a preliminary issue?

Yes. In certain cases, particularly when a mixed question of law or fact is raised, the issue should await a full-fledged trial after evidence is adduced.

[The Jamia Masjid v. KV Rudrappa,  2021 SCC OnLine SC 792, decided on 23.09.2021]

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Appearances before the Court:

For appellant: Senior Advocate V Mohana

For respondents: Senior Advocate Basava Prabhu Patil and Advocate Balaji Srinivasan


*Judgment by: Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud

Know Thy Judge| Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud