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Res Judicata Not Applicable When A Fresh Application Is Filed On Changed Circumstances That Were Not In Existence When Earlier Case Was Pleaded: Punjab And Haryana HC

Shvena Neendoor ,
  04 August 2022       Share Bookmark

Court :
High Court of Punjab and Haryana
Brief :

Citation :
CR No.282 of 2014 (O&M)

Case title:
Shri Jainendra Gurukul Panchkula through its Secretary Vs Dev Raj

Date of Order:
28.07.2022

Bench:
Justice Arvind Singh Sangwan

Parties:
Appellant- Shri Jainendra Gurukul Panchkula through its Secretary
Respondent- Dev Raj

SUBJECT

The High Court of Punjab and Haryana overturned the lower appellate court's decision and upheld the Trial Court's decision, holding that the 2nd eviction petition was not barred by the doctrine of res judicata because the new application was based on changed circumstances that were not in existence and not pleaded in the prior case.

The court, led by Justice Arvind Singh Sangwan, noted that in the current instance, the landlord sought eviction on two grounds: bona fide necessity for renovating the property and failure to pay rent arrears, whereas the previous petition was simply for bona fide necessity.

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS

  1. Section 13, Haryana Urban (Control of Rent & Eviction) Act, 1973- The section provides that a tenant possessing a building or rented land must not be ejected from it except in compliance with the provisions of the section.
  2. Section 11, Code of Civil Procedure, 1908- The section embodies the principle of res judicata. It states that no Court shall try any suit or dispute in which the issue directly and significantly in contention was in issue in a previous suit involving the same parties and litigating under the same title and was heard and ultimately decided by such Court.

OVERVIEW

  • The landlord (petitioner) initiated an eviction petition as per Section 13 of the Haryana Urban (Control of Rent & Eviction) Act, 1973, citing rent arrears and the petitioner's personal requirement for the premises.
  • The respondent/tenant filed a counter-claim in the litigation, claiming that the petitioner/landlord previously filed a rent petition which was determined on 08.06.2007, and thus the current petition is blocked by res judicata under Section 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
  • The Rent Controller ruled on May 14, 2012, that it is planned to demolish the present building and establish a new degree college, as well as the structures necessary for dormitory accommodation, etc.
  • The Rent Controller ruled that the petitioner/landlord had the right to evict the respondent. Concerning the petition's maintainability, it was determined that it was not barred by the principle of res judicata because, upon consideration of the earlier ejectment petition and written statement, as well as a perusal of the judgement, an observation was recorded that the rent petition was rejected for lack of evidence because the petitioner failed to initiate any evidence in the said case.
  • The Rent Controller determined that the aforementioned verdict, which did not resolve the parties inter-se dispute, was not binding, and so the rule of res judicata did not apply.
  • The respondent filed an appeal before the Lower Appellate Court, which overruled the Rent Controller's judgments on the question of maintainability, and consequently, the petitioner's eviction petition was dismissed.

ISSUES RAISED

  • Whether the principle of Res Judicata can apply when a fresh application is filed on different circumstances that were neither present nor pleaded in the first case?

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE PETITIONER

  • The petitioner's counsel stated that the previous petition was filed only on the basis of personal necessity, but the current petition is filed on two grounds, namely personal necessity and non-payment of rent.
  • It was also argued that the first petition was denied due to the petitioner's failure to produce proof, however, in the current instance, the petitioner has presented evidence to substantiate both reasons, namely personal necessity and non-payment of rent.
  • Furthermore, the Counsel maintained that the concept of res judicata will just not apply in this instance because the subject was never determined on merits by the Courts because the petition was dismissed due to the petitioner's inability to lead evidence.
  • The Counsel then referred to the Supreme Court case of N.R. Narayan Swamy vs B. Francis Jagan[2001(2) RCR (Rent) 169] to argue that if a Rent Act action is dismissed, the second petition may only be dismissed if the matter in the later petition is similar.
  • The petitioner's counsel further stated that because there was an extra reason for non-payment of rent in this case, the requirements of Section 11 CPC would not apply.

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT

Despite fresh service, there was no representation on the respondent's behalf because his previous counsel had not showed up after granting an undertaking to evict the premises, and the respondent appeared in person to submit that he had not committed him as counsel and that, despite fresh notification, nobody was present.

JUDGEMENT ANALYSIS

  • After hearing the petitioner's counsel and reviewing the evidence, the Court found merit in the current petition since the Rent Controller correctly documented findings indicating that the petitioner’s need was legitimate and the respondent failed to pay the rent arrears.
  • The Court also observed that the Trial Court made a valid judgement on the maintainability problem, stating that the concept of res judicata would not apply in this instance because the fresh application was filed based on changing facts that were non-existent and not pled in the previous case.
  • It was also noted that in the instant case, the petitioner sought eviction on two grounds: the first was that the premises were required for building upgrades, and the second was that the occupant was a defaulter who had not paid the arrears of rent, whereas, in the previous petition, there was just one precondition of bona fide necessity.
  • The Bench also stated that the earlier petition was not judged on the merits of the case because it was summarily dismissed because the petitioner failed to lead the evidence, and thus the Lower Appellate Court erred in overturning the finding on the matter of maintainability that the current petition was barred by the principle of res judicata.

CONCLUSION

As a result, the current revision petition was allowed. Because a period of ten years had already passed when the Rent Controller's decision was issued in 2012, the respondent/tenant was ordered to evacuate the premises within two months of the date of this order.The Lower Appellate Court's rulings were overturned, while the trial Court's were maintained.

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