How does judiciary prevents the multiple suits on same subject matter?

How does judiciary prevents the multiple suits on same subject matter?

The Indian Legal system is being laid down with the help of the common law as they have a persuasive impact on our judicial system due to British Colonization. This principle helps in enhancing the efficacy of the justice system and ensures that it maintains its positive productive approach towards society. Law is not rigid in any country as it is required to be amended, added or eliminated as per the changing society. Therefore, it is often that the judiciary has to face with various issues while deciding cases especially when the question is one point of law where under the issues with respect to which there is no proper law provided under Indian laws. It is prudent for the court to consult various other sources in order to decide such cases which can be any source such foreign law, statements made in dicta, treaties, etc . Likewise, one of the most famous issues is the prevention of multiple suits on the same subject. Judiciary has adopted the common law Doctrine of Res Judicata and Res Sub Judice in order to deal over the issue of multiple suits on the same title.

Res Judicata 

Res Judicata is a Latin term “Things has been Judged” which means issues before the court that have already been decided by another court, between the same parties. The court shall dismiss the case as it is no longer fit for appeal. Its nature is to bar or preclude to institute multiple suits on the same title with the same party. The object of this doctrine is to ensure the smooth functioning of the Indian justice system.

The doctrine of Res Judicata is actually a shrunk version of the legal maxim “Res Judicata Pro Veritate Accipitur”. The English common law concept was derived from the overriding concept of Judicial Economy, consistency and finality. Later the Indian Legal system inculcated this concept under section 10 ( bar on the power of the concurrent court to try a subsequent suit if the previously instituted suit is pending in the same court), section11 (which enacts that once the matter is finally decided by a competent court, no such court shall try any subsequent suit or issue which has been directly and substantially in issue in a former suit between the same parties and their privies litigating under the same title) and Section 12 (which is based upon the principle that the defendant should not be vexed twice for one and the same cause, also disentitles the plaintiff who is barred by the statutory rules to institute a further suit in respect of the same cause of action)[1] of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, Section 300 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, Section 26 of the General Clauses Act, 1897 and Article 20(2) of the Constitution of India, 1950.

The present Code has adopted the border rule of the bar by the verdict, a decision of every issue in a suit being res judicata in every subsequent suit [2].

The cardinal principle of res judicata is, dealt with under Section 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. It is mainly based on two grounds, embodied in various maxims such as Nemo debet bis vexari pro un aet eadem causa (no man to be vexed twice for the same cause),  interest Republicaut sit finish litium (it is in the interest of the state there should be an end to litigation ), and res judicata pro veritate occipiture of the common law (a judicial decision should be accepted as correct), the first one is about a private justice that one should not be vexed twice for the same cause and the other is public policy and necessity which makes it to the interest of the State that there should be an end to litigation [3]. The Apex Court also has made an observation with respect to the maxim [4] . Therefore section 11 of the code of civil procedure, 1908 has embodied the rule of conclusive judgment. It is a mandatory provision and shall only take the recourse of section 44 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 on the ground of fraud or collusion and the same was observed in case of  Beli Ram and Brothers v Chaudri Mohammad Afzal (1948) 50 BOMLR 674.


In the case of Y.B. Patil  v. Y.L.Patil [5] the court held that once an order is made in the course of the proceedings, it becomes final and therefore would be binding upon the parties at any subsequent stages of the same proceedings.

This doctrine can also apply against co-defendants. In the case of Mahaboob Sahab v Syed Ismail [6], the court held the following four conditions must be satisfied for the application of res judicata: Firstly, there must be a conflict of interest between the defendants concerned. Secondly, it must be necessary to decide such conflicts, in order to give relief to the plaintiff. Thirdly, the questions between the defendants to be finally decided. Fourthly, co-defendants to be necessary and proper parties to the suit.

Further, this doctrine can be applied even between co-plaintiffs. In the case of Iftikhar Ahmed v. Syed Meharban Ali [7], the court held that if the following four conditions are satisfied res judicata will be applicable in namely three cases: First, there must be a conflict of interest between the co-plaintiffs. Second, it must be necessary to decide such conflicts, in order to give relief to the plaintiff and third, the questions between the plaintiffs to be finally decided.

Res Sub Judice

The origin of res sub- judice is been from Roman law which means “previous judgment”. This provision is essentially dedicated to avoiding multiplicity of suits. Sub Judice means under judgment. According to this doctrine, a two or more cases are filed between the same parties with respect to the same subject matter in two or more courts the competent court has the power to stay proceedings of another court. The main objective is to prevent courts of concurrent jurisdiction from institute cases of the same subject matter simultaneously and proceed with two parallel litigations of the same cause of action.

Provision under Civil Procedure Code, 1908

According to 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 to litigate under the same title where such suit is pending in the same or any other Court in  India have 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.

Explanation— The pendency of a suit in a foreign Court does not preclude the Courts in India from trying a suit founded on the same cause of action

Essential Conditions [8]

1. SAME PARTIES – Parties shall institute two suits having the same subject matter

2. MATTERS IN THE ISSUE MUST BE SAME –  The substance of the matter shall be the same in both the suits

3. THE SUITS MUST BE PENDING – One of the main conditions to qualify for section 10 is that the previous suit must to pending.

4. SAME TITLE – Parties contesting for  suit must be for the same title

5. COMPETENT COURT – Court shall be competent to try the previous suit.

Inherent powers of the Court

Section 151 of the civil procedure code empowers the civil courts to stay a suit in order to achieve justice. The Court also has the authority to consolidate the different suits between the same parties in which the matter in issue is substantially the same [9].


In order, to improvise the efficiency and smooth functioning of the courts various measures and laws have been implemented. Frivolous suits and repetitive suits are one such issue that courts had facing time and again. Res Judicata and Res sub judice operate as a bar on suit or stay of suits which on the satisfaction of the court has found that a suit has been unreasonably instituted court and aims to prevent multiple suits thereby reducing the burden of court.

“The views of the authors are personal


  1. BonoyBhusan Das Gupta v. Smt. Savitri Baneijee AIR 1977 Cal. 199
  2. Sir John Woodraffe& Ameer Ali Code ofCivil Procedure, Vol-I, 3rd Edition 1988. revised by Justice
  3. Halsbury’s Law ofEngland, 3rd Ed. Vol. 15 P. 185.
  4. Ashok Kumar v National Insurance Company1998
  5. Y.B. Patil  v. Y.L.Patil1977 AIR 392, 1977 SCR (1) 320
  6. Mahaboob Sahab v Syed Ismail1995 AIR 1205, 1995 SCC (3) 693
  7. Iftikhar Ahmed v. Syed MeharbanAli1974 AIR 749, 1974 SCR (3) 464
  8. Escort Const. Equipment Ltd. V Action Const. Equipment’s Ltd 1998
  9. P.P.Gupta vs. East Asiatic Co., AIR 1960 ALL 184
Tosani Lal
I am Tosani Lal from Amity Law School, Noida. My interest in the field of law started when I had shifted to the Gulf at a very early age. There I observed how laws of different countries govern the conduct of its people and also have a great impact on them. At law school, when I read the Constitution Of India I was deeply impressed by it and realized that to bring the change in the system you have to be part of the system. I have a keen interest in the Human Rights of women and children and with the help of my knowledge in the legal field I want to contribute to improving the deteriorating situation of society to do my bit to bring a positive change in society.