This Article is written by Pooja Lakshmi pursuing (BBA-LLB Third year at Bennett University, Greater Noida)
Table of Contents
Article 20(2) of the Indian Constitution ensures the right to double jeopardy, which states that no one shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than once. Section 300 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, provides protection against double jeopardy by stating that a person who has been convicted or acquitted for the same offence cannot be convicted again for the same offence. The essence of Section 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC), 1908 is the doctrine of res judicata, commonly known as the rule of conclusiveness of a judgement, respecting the point resolved either of fact, law, or both, in every subsequent litigation between the same parties.
A new charge under section 300 of the Cr.PC cannot be brought against a person based on the same circumstances, according to the basic principle of law. It is primarily the responsibility of the police officer who files the charge sheet to ensure that all charges against an accused are properly framed, and it is also the responsibility of the magistrate to ensure that the charge sheet is filed without error. On the other hand, idea of res judicata, sometimes known as ‘issue estoppel,’ is based on the fact that the issues in the two trials are identical.
The cumulative effect of this rule might be summarised as follows: no man should be vexed twice for the same cause (nemo debetlisvexari pro una et eademcaus), it is in the interest of the State to bring a litigation to an ending(interest republicaeut sit finislitium), and a judicial decision must be regarded as accurate (res judicata pro veritateoccipitur). To succeed on a res judicata defence, the defendant must show not only that the cause of action was the same, but also that the plaintiff had a prior opportunity to obtain the remedy he is seeking now. To accomplish this, it is required to determine whether the claim in the second litigation is based on the same cause of action as the previous suit.
Analysis of the Components
Claim preclusion and issue preclusion are complementary concepts in res judicata, however a limited understanding of the doctrine only includes claim preclusion. Claim preclusion is concerned with preventing a suit from being brought again based on a legal cause of action that has already been determined between the parties and is no longer in dispute whereas Issue preclusion aims to avoid the re-litigation of factual issues that have previously been decided by a judge or jury as part of a previous claim. The most difficult matter for courts to determine when using res judicata is the scope of a previous judgement.
The matter directly and substantially in issue in the following suit must have been heard and finally determined by a court in the preceding suit, i.e., it must be a challenged matter on which the court has exercised its judicial senses and reached a decision after arguments and consideration.
Section 11 does not codify or crystallise the entire law relating to the theory of res judicata; rather, it addresses some of the conditions in which a previous ruling will act as res judicata, but not all. The right to not be punished more than once for the same offence has long been a part of Indian jurisprudence, though it was codified in Sec. 26 of the General Clauses Act and Sec. 403 (1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CRPC), 1898, and echoes of it can still be found in Sec. 300 of the Cr PC, 1973.
The finality principle was expressed in the Roman-law doctrine of res judicata, which states that a matter or question raised by one’s adversary that has already been adjudicated in previous legal proceedings cannot be raised again. Furthermore, Roman literature on the notion of res judicata reflects a concern that a society should be protected from what could be considered an oppressive multiplication of litigation.
In India, the definition and scope of double jeopardy is extensively covered and defined under section 300 of the Cr.PC, and in the United States, almost a similar type of procedure was first developed as an element test in the case of Blockburger v. the United States, where the Court stated that “where the same transaction or act constitutes a violation of two separate statutory provisions, the test to be applied to determine whether there are two offences or only one is whether each provision requires proof. This approach has long been used to determine whether subsequent prosecutions were correct and to handle multiple punishment difficulties by evaluating presumed legislative intent, and it is now the only way to define “same offence.”
The Privy Council decision in Sambasivam v Public Prosecutor, Federation of Malaya, where the court stated that the effect of an acquittal pronounced by a competent court on a lawful charge and after a lawful trial is not completely stated by saying that the person acquitted cannot be tried again for the same offence, and to that it must be added that the verdict is binding and conclusive in all subsequent proceedings, was the starting point of issue estoppels
Despite their domains of application ranging from criminal law to civil law, the similarities between the aforementioned theory and the common law principle of res judicata become very clear. Although the CrPC’s elaboration of double jeopardy has a wider range of shades than the constitutional enunciation, it has been observed throughout the country’s jurisprudential history that the masses prefer to invoke the constitutional recourse when pleading the defence of double jeopardy, rather than alluding to the CrPC’s provisions.
Every legal system has two pillars: The first is legal certainty, and the second is equity. When an offender is prosecuted and punished, he must understand that by paying the penalty, he has expunged his guilt and is no longer subject to additional punishment. If he is acquitted, he must be confident that he will not be charged again in the future. The notion of double jeopardy and res judicata has been a part of the legal system since a long time and is an honest attempt to safeguard the non-guilty ones can be considered a positive and just doctrine based on equity, justice, and good conscience. As a result, the rule of double jeopardy and res judicata cannot be applied uniformly and it is to be understood differently in different situations.