LALA JAGESHWAR PRASAD Vs. SHYAM BEHARI LAL
LAWS(ALL)-1965-5-10
HIGH COURT OF ALLAHABAD
Decided on May 20,1965

LALA JAGESHWAR PRASAD Appellant
VERSUS
SHYAM BEHARI LAL Respondents


Referred Judgements :-

MISSER RAGHUBARDIAL V. SHEO BAKSH SINGH [REFERRED TO]
GOKUL MANDAR V. PUDMANUND SINGH [REFERRED TO]
RAJA SIMHADRI APPA RAO V. RAMACHANDRUDU [REFERRED TO]
DULARE LAL V. HAZARI LAL [REFERRED TO]
BODLU BHONJA V. MOHAN SINGH [REFERRED TO]
SHAKIRA BIBI V. NANDAN RAI [REFERRED TO]
SRIMATI RAJ LAKSHMI DASI VS. BANAMALI SEN [REFERRED TO]
BHAGWAN DAYAL SINCE DECEASED AND THEREAFTER HIS HEIRS AND LEGAL REPRESENTATIVES BANSGOPAL DUBEY VS. REOTI DEVI DECEASED AND AFTER HER DEATH MST DAYAVATI HER DAUGHTER [REFERRED TO]
L JANAKIRAMA IYER S R KOOTHANANIAR PILLAI IN C A NO 77 OF 59 VS. P M NILAKANTA IYER:P M NILAKANTA IYER [REFERRED TO]
FIRM ASHARFI LAL RAMDEO VS. FIRM GANESHI RAM JAGARNATH [REFERRED TO]
NEWTON HICKIE VS. OFFICIAL TRUSTEE OF WEST BENGAL [REFERRED TO]
RUKMINI VITHU VS. RAYAJI DATTATRAYA PAI [REFERRED TO]
NAKCHED CHAUDHARI VS. SUKHDEO CHAUDHARI [REFERRED TO]
SARJU PRASAD SONAR VS. MAHADEO PRASAD PANDEY [REFERRED TO]



Cited Judgements :-

KELAPPAN VS. ANANDAN [LAWS(KER)-1969-12-11] [REFERRED TO]
KUNIYIL VS. UCHUMMAL CHAKKIATH ANANDAN [LAWS(KER)-1969-12-17] [REFERRED TO]
GANGABAI VS. CHHABUBAI [LAWS(SC)-1981-11-12] [REFERRED TO]
MANZURUL HAQ VS. HAKIM MOHSIN ALI [LAWS(ALL)-1970-5-10] [REFERRED TO]


JUDGEMENT

S.S.Dhavan, J. - (1.)THIS is a landlord's second appeal from the concurrent decisions of the courts below dismissing his suit for the recovery of rent from the defendant respondent. It raises an important question of law concerning the application of the principle of res judicata to the findings of a Court of Small Causes. The appellant Jageshwar Prasad filed this suit against Shyam Behari Lal for the recovery of Rs. 1440 as arrears of rent on the basis of an agreement of tenancy. The defendant resisted the suit and denied that there was any contract of tenancy between him and the plaintiff. He also raised a number of other pleas which it is not necessary to consider in this appeal. The plaintiff contended that the finding of the Small Cause Court, in his previous suit for the recovery of rent from the defendant for an earlier period, that there was an agreement of tenancy between, the parties, operated as res judicata in the present suit and the defendant could not be permitted to deny the tenancy. THIS plea was overruled by the Additional Munsif, Kanpur who decided this question on merits, and held that the plaintiff had not proved the agreement of tenancy between him and the defendant. He dismissed the suit. The lower appellate court confirmed this decision and the plaintiff has come to this Court in second appeal.
(2.)LEARNED counsel for the plaintiff-appellant has argued that the view of the courts below that the finding of the Small Cause Court in the previous suit that there was a contract of tenancy between the parties does not operate as res judicata in the present suit is erroneous. On the other hand, it has been argued on behalf of the respondent by Mr. K. C. Saxena that Section 11 C. P. C. will apply only under certain conditions specified in the Section, and as these are not present in this case the earlier decision cannot operate as res judicata.
The question of law involved in this appeal is whether the finding of the Small Cause Court, in a suit by the landlord for recovery of rent from the tenant, that there is an agreement of tenancy between the parties, operates as res judicata in a subsequent suit by the landlord for the recovery of rent for a different period but under the same agreement, filed in a Civil Court. The answer to this question depends upon whether the decision of the Small Cause Court, for purposes of res judicata is governed by the provisions of Section 11 of the Code of Civil procedure or by the general principles of res judicata. The relevant words of Section 11 (1) are as follows: "(11) Res Judicata:- No Court shall try any suit or issue in which the matter directly and substantially in issue has been directly and 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, in a Court competent to try such subsequent suit or the suit in which such issue has been subsequently raised, and has been heard and finally decided by such Court."

The vital words for the purpose of the present controversy are "in a Court competent to try such subsequent suit." They mean that in order that a decision may prevent a re-hearing of the same matter by another Court, the Court whose decision is to operate as res judicata in the subsequent suit must be competent to hear not only the suit in which the decision was given but also the one in which it is to operate as res judicata. The reason for imposing the second condition lies in the nature of our judicial system which consists of a hierarchy of subordinate courts, and it was evidently felt that the decision of a Court of inferior status cannot bar the jurisdiction of a Court of superior status, and only the decision of a Court of co-ordinate jurisdiction alone will be potent enough to prevent another Court from hearing the same disputes between the same parties. The words "competent to try the subsequent suit" incorporate this principle.

(3.)BUT this condition of competency to try the subsequent suit is imposed by Section 11 C. P. C. and not by the general principle of res judicata. This principle is wider in its scope than Section 11 which applies to "suits" only. The general principle, like Section 11 C. P. C., requires that the Court whose decision is to operate as res judicata in a subsequent suit should be competent to hear its own suit, but unlike Section 11, it does not require that it should be competent to hear the subsequent suit as well. However, the restrictive condition, imposed by Section 11, of the two-fold competency of the Court whose decision is to be operated as res judicata does not apply to Courts with exclusive jurisdiction. If the previous decision, was delivered by a Court which has exclusive jurisdiction to hear the matter before it that is, if no other Court could have heard that matter, its verdict will operate as res judicata in any subsequent proceedings even if it was not competent to hear the subsequent suit. The reason for this exception is that the exclusive jurisdiction conferred on the Court by law will cease to be exclusive if a matter decided by it is permitted to be re-heard by another Court. Therefore, the decisions of the revenue court, the Land Acquisition Court, or any other court, in a matter which it has the exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide will bar a subsequent hearing of the same matter by a Civil Court.
The question is whether the decision of a Small Cause Court, for the purpose of res judicata, is subject to the condition of twofold competency imposed by Section 11 C. P. C. or a single competency to hear its own suit as required by the general principles of res judicata. The question arises in this way. On the one hand a Small Cause Court has exclusive jurisdiction to try certain classes of suits and therefore its decisions should be governed by the general principles of res judicata as in the case of other Courts of exclusive jurisdiction; but on the other hand the proceedings before it are a "suit" and therefore the conditions imposed by Section 11 C. P. C. should govern its decision, as regards res judicata, as in other suits. Which is to be, the wider general principle of res judicata, or the restricted provision of Section 11 that is the question. Some courts have taken the former view, and others the latter.

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