Question: How far, under what circumstances, and for what purposes, can previous judgments be deemed relevant? [M.P.C.J. 2011, U.P.C.J. 2018] Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [How far, under what circumstances, and for what purposes, can previous judgments be deemed relevant?] Answer In the Indian Evidence Act, Section 40 to section 44 entails… Read More »

Question: How far, under what circumstances, and for what purposes, can previous judgments be deemed relevant? [M.P.C.J. 2011, U.P.C.J. 2018] Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [How far, under what circumstances, and for what purposes, can previous judgments be deemed relevant?] Answer In the Indian Evidence Act, Section 40 to section 44 entails the provision under what circumstances and for what purposes, the previous judgments of the court are deemed relevant....

Question: How far, under what circumstances, and for what purposes, can previous judgments be deemed relevant? [M.P.C.J. 2011, U.P.C.J. 2018]

Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [How far, under what circumstances, and for what purposes, can previous judgments be deemed relevant?]

Answer

In the Indian Evidence Act, Section 40 to section 44 entails the provision under what circumstances and for what purposes, the previous judgments of the court are deemed relevant. The provisions are illustrated below:

1. Previous judgments relevant to bar a second suit trial (Section 40)

“The existence of any judgment, order or decree which by 1 prevents any Court from taking cognizance of a suit or holding a trial is a relevant fact when the question is whether such Court ought to the cognizance of such suit or to hold such trial.”

A judgment that has the effect of res judicata is relevant in every case in which it has that effect. Section 40 incorporates this principle of res judicata, a part of the Civil Procedure Code.

The principle is that where a cause of action has been agitated before a court of law between certain parties and the case has been decided, then no new action can be brought on the same cause of action and between the san parties, and if the plaintiff proposes to trouble the defendant again with the same cause of action, the earlier judgment will be a complete bar. Thus the earlier judgment will be relevant because it will have the effect of preventing the court from taking cognizance of the case.

The principle applies to criminal proceedings also. If a person has been once tried for an offence and either convicted or acquitted of it, he cannot be tried again for the same offence and it will be a complete defence for him to show that he has already been acquitted (autre fois acquit) or convicted (autri fois convict) for it. Thus the judgment by which he was acquitted or convicted will be relevant to every case or proceeding in which he is charged with the same offence.

2. Relevancy of Certain Judgments in Probate, etc. Jurisdiction (Sec. 41)

A final judgment, order or decree of a court exercising probate (relating to will), matrimonial, admiralty (war claims) or insolvency jurisdiction which confers upon or takes away from any person any legal character, or declares any person to be entitled to any such character or any specific thing absolutely, is relevant.”

Section 41 deals with judgments in rem i.e. a kind of declaration about the status of a person (e.g. that he is insolvent or married or not) and is effective against everybody whether he was a party to the proceeding or not. A judgment in personam, on the other hand, means a judgment between the parties (e.g. in a tort or contract action), which binds only the parties and is not relevant in any subsequent case or proceeding.

Section 41 further lays down that such judgment is conclusive proof -that any legal character, which it confers, accrued at the time when such judgment came into operation; (ii) that any legal character to which it declares any person to be entitled or not, accrued or ceased at the time mentioned in the judgment; (iii) that anything to which it declares a person to be entitled was that person’s property at the time at which the judgment declares it to be his.

3. Relevancy and Effect of Judgments, etc. Other than those mentioned in Sec. 41 (Sec. 42)

“Judgments, orders or decrees other than those mentioned in Section 41 are relevant if they relate to matters of a public nature relevant to the inquiry but such judgments, etc. are not conclusive proof of that which the state.”

Judgments on such matters are relevant to every case or proceeding in which the matter is again in question, but shall not be conclusive c the matter.

Illustration: A sues B for trespass on his land; B alleges the existence c a public right of way over the land. The existence of a decree in favour of the defendant, in a suit by A against C for a trespass on the same land in which C alleged the existence of the same right of way, is relevant but it is not conclusive proof that the right of way exists.

4. Judgments, etc., other than those mentioned in Sections 40 to 42, when relevant (Section 43)

“Judgments, orders or decrees, other than those mentioned in Sections 40, 41 and 42, are irrelevant, unless the existence of such judgment, order or decree, is a fact in issue, or is relevant under some other provisions of this Act.”

Evidence can be given of a judgment when the existence of the judgment is itself a fact in issue or is a fact otherwise relevant to the case. Thus, if a person is murdered in consequence of a judgment, the judgment being a cause or motive of the murder will be a relevant fact.

Illustration (a): A prosecutes B for adultery with C, A’s wife. B denies that C is A’s wife, but the court convicts B of adultery. Afterwards, C is prosecuted for bigamy in marrying B during A’s lifetime. C says that she never was A’s wife. Here, the judgment against B is irrelevant as against C.

5. Fraud or Collusion in Obtaining Judgment/ Incompetency of Court (Sec. 44)

(Diminishing of the Evidentiary Value of Judgments)

“Any party to a suit or other proceeding may show that any judgment, order or decree, relevant under Sec. 40-42 and which has been proved by the adverse party, was delivered by a court not competent to deliver it, or was obtained by fraud or collusion.”

The existence of a judgment over a matter which is again in question is a satisfactory piece of evidence, though, of course, nothing is said about its evidentiary value in the Evidence Act. The Act only provides that the value of a judgment may be demolished by showing that it was delivered by a court of incompetent jurisdiction, or it was obtained by fraud or collusion.

Such a judgment does not have the effect of res judicata. A judgment obtained by ‘collusion’ means that there was no cause of action between the parties and by collusion of the parties a cause of action was feigned thus enabling the court to pass its judgment.


Important Mains Questions Series for Judiciary, APO & University Exams

  1. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-I
  2. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-II
  3. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-III
  4. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-IV
  5. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-V
  6. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-VI
  7. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-VII
  8. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-VIII
  9. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-IX
  10. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-X
Updated On 2021-10-07T18:11:18+05:30
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