SC on the conditions required for applying res judicata b/w co-defendants.

On 23rdOctober, 2018, the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of Govindammal (Dead) By Lrs. and Ors. versus Vaidiyanathan and Ors.  elaborated the conditions required to be fulfilled for applying the principle of res judicata as between co-defendants:

(Para 9) The requisite conditions to apply the principle of res judicata as between co-­defendants are that:

(a) there must be conflict of interest between the defendants concerned,

(b) it must be necessary to decide this conflict in order to give the plaintiff the relief he claims and

(c) the question between the defendants must have been finally decided.

All the three conditions should be fulfilled in order to apply the principles of res judicata. (Syed Mohammad Saadat Ali Khan vs. Mirza Wiquar Ali Beg and others, AIR (30) 1943 Privy Council 115)

It is true that under Section 11 of the CPC, when the matter has been directly or 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, the decree in the former suit would operate as res judicata between the plaintiff and the defendant or as between the co­-plaintiffs or co-­defendants. (Para 12)

If a plaintiff cannot get his claimed relief without trying and deciding a case between the co­-defendants, the court will try and decide the case in its entirety including the conflict of interest between the co­-defendants and the co­-defendants will be bound by the decree. But if the relief given to the plaintiff does not require or involve a decision of any case between co-defendants, the co-­defendants will not be bound as between each other. (Para 12)

Further it was also observed that:

It is no doubt true that an admission is the best piece of evidence. However, an admission can always be explained, unless such an admission gives rise to the principle of estoppel. The basic requirement for attracting the principle of estoppel, is that the person to whom the representation has been made must have acted on the basis of such representation, and particularly to his own detriment.  (Para 13)

In an auction purchase,the auction purchaser does not acquire any right over the property higher than that of the judgment debtor. (Para 13)

Copy of the Judgement: Judgement 23-Oct-2018

-Tushar Kaushik

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