- Res Judicata to be applicable only in case of conclusive judgments given by the courts.
- A suit under Section 92 shall be considered as a representative suit and therefore, shall be binding on all the parties interested in the issue.
- The suit property was managed by Abdul Khuddus on behalf of the Wakf Board when the Wakf Act 1954, was enacted.
- After the death of Abdul Khuddus, defendants took control of the property. In an earlier suit the property had been declared as the personal property of Abdul Khuddus, and the defendant stated it was rightfully sold to them by the successors of Khuddus. This suit was filed by the members of the public of Gubbi in their representative capacity by virtue of Section 92 CPC.
- A separate suit had been filed by the Mysore Board of Wakf seeking a declaration that the suit property as a wakf and for possession of the suit property. The board later gave up its claim to the property.
- The third suit was by the Karnataka Board of Wakf seeking an injunction to restrain the heirs of Abdul Khuddus from interfering in the peaceful possession of the suit property. This was later withdrawn.
- The present suit sought, inter alia, the declaration of the property as a Wakf property, butthe defendants brought up the earlier suit and raised the issue of “res judicata”.
- Res judicata- It prohibits courts from trying any suit or issue in which the matter has been adjudicated upon by a competent court. There is no appeal pending in the case.
- Section 92 of the CPC- Provides right to a person in case of any alleged breach of any express or constructive trust created for a public purpose of a charitable or religious nature.
Supreme Court’s Decision
- The trial court tackled the issue of res judicata at a preliminary stage, and held that the subsequent suit is barred by res judicata. This was upheld by the High Court as well.
- The apex court reversed these orders. It said there was no adjudication in the first suit about whether Abdul Khuddus had absolute right over the property, there was only a prima facie declaration. The second suit would not be barred by res judicata.
- The court stated that “section 92 CPC is of a representative character and all persons interested in the Trust would be bound by the judgment in the suit”. These parties would also be restricted by res judicata.
- The court referred to Mahant Pragdasji Guru Bhagwandasji v. Patel Ishwarlalbhai Narsibha, to understand the ambit of representative suit under Section 92 of the CPC. On applying the principles evolved in this case, it was seen that the relief sought in the first suit under section 92 CPC was for determining a scheme of management of the mosque.
- On the applicability of Res Judicata, the Court referred to RajeAnandrao v. Shamrao, and stated that it was evident that a representative suit is binding on all the interested parties. This implied the first suit would involve Jamia Masjid and would prevent it from initiating another suit on the same issue, which has been conclusively decided.
- However, it was seen that the district court did not enter a conclusive finding. Further it is observed that the High Court has committed an error in the application of the principle of res judicata.
- The appeal was thus allowed.
Do you think the Supreme Court should have applied the principle of res judicata?
What is section 92 of the CPC?