Res Judicata is a Latin term which means ‘putting an end to the litigation’. It means that once the particular matter is being heard by a competent court and judgement is being passed then a subsequent request to hear the plea again by the same court or other competent courts won’t be allowed. The thought behind the maxim is to avoid re-litigation of the same matter which is already being judged. The maxim can be applied by the courts when the same matter comes to the court or the situations resemble to be same as in the previous matter.
Res Judicata come through the English Law and was slowly adopted by the Indian Law System. It was first adopted by the Civil Procedure Code 1908. Sec 11 of Civil Procedure Code 1908 states that when one matter is decided by a competent court, then the subsequent re-opening of the same matter by any party is barred. The principle of Res Judicata bars re-litigation of the same matter by the same parties. In a country like India where cases are pending for 5-6 years, re litigation on the same matter unnecessarily takes up valuable time of courts. The doctrine is based on three conditions
- The same person should not be vexed twice for the same offence.
- End of the litigation should be in the interest of the state.
- The decision pronounced should be accepted as correct.
A filed case against B for committing fraud with Bombay High Court and the court ruled in favour of A and dismissed the matter. A cannot file a case against for the same offence with Delhi High court.
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Res Judicata means, “ judgement, decree, award or other determination that is considered final and bars re-litigation of the same matter.[i]
What is Bail?
Bail is a kind of security that the accused will be present during all the court proceedings and includes bail bond. Getting a bail implies that the person accused is let out of the prison, but has to be present during the court proceedings. The person accused is let out on the personal guarantee. The authorities that can approve bail are police and courts. The laws dealing with bail are mentioned in sec 437, sec 438, sec 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973.
Granting of the bill depends on the factors as basic as the type of offence committed, whether it is a bailable offence or non-bailable offence, the gravity of the offence committed, the possibility of tampering with evidence, etc.
But can the principle of Res Judicata applied to bail? Application of bail can be applied any number of times until the bail is granted. There is no limitation on how many times one can file the bail application. But the basis of filing application of bail should be different every time the application is filed. The law has not mentioned any specific period after which the subsequent bail application can be file, once rejected.
A subsequent bail application after the rejection of the previous bail application can be filed with a court only when there has been changes in the grounds for granting bail. Also, the bail application should be filed with the same judge who previously rejected the bail application.
In Sharad v State of Maharashtra[ii], it was observed by the Supreme Court that a bail application filed with Sessions court is maintainable, even if a prior bail application filed with High Court is revoked.
The court while deciding to grant the bail or declining the bail should look at the evidences or conditions prevailing during the bail application. The court can decide upon factors such as offence committed, the gravity of the offence committed.
The principle of Res Judicata bars re-litigation of the matter already judged. Bail is not any form of judgement or order. It is the release of accused from legal custody. If the accused gets acquitted he will be imprisoned as per the judgement states. Bail does not comes any close with judgement, order or decree. Bail is important for the accused to prove oneself innocent. Also, bail is not easily granted and a subsequent bail application is maintainable only if there are any changes in the situation or grounds from what grounds the previous bail was sought. Just that a considerable amount of time has passed after the first bail application is not a valid ground for subsequent bail application.
Therefore it is clear that the principle of res judicata does not apply to bail. Bail does not in anyway puts an end to any legal court proceeding. It is a security that the person being released from the legal custody will be present to all the further court proceedings and also depends on the discretion of the court to grant bail or not.
“The views of the authors are personal“
[i] (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/res%20judicata#legalDictionary, n.d.)
[ii] (https://www.vidhiwise.in/can-accused-present-his-subsequent-bail-application-before-the-sessions-court-if-his-earlier-bail-application-filed-before-the-high-court-has-been-withdrawn-by-him/, n.d.)