What is \’Constructive Res Judicata’?

In a recently reported decision [Ramchandra Dagdu Sonavane (Dead) by L.Rs. v. Vithu Hira Mahar (Dead) by LRs. & Ors., AIR 2010 SC 818], Hon\’ble Supreme Court has explained the doctrine of constructive res judicata as applicable in Indian law. A sub-set of the doctrine of res judicata, emanating from Section 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the doctrine of constructive res judicata sets to naught any claims being raised in a subsequent proceeding where in an earlier proceeding such claim ought to have been raised and decided. As a rule of prudence, thus, the doctrine seeks to bar determination and enforcement of claims which have not been raised at an appropriate juncture in judicial proceedings.

Hon\’ble Supreme Court explained the meaning and ambit of the doctrine of constructive res judicata as under;

\”It is well known that the doctrine of res- judicata is codified in Section 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Section 11 generally comes into play in relation of civil suits. But apart from the codified law, the doctrine of res-judicata or the principle of the res-judicata has been applied since long in various other kinds of proceedings and situations by courts in England, India and other countries. The rule of constructive res-judicata is engrafted in Explanation IV of Section 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure and in many other situations also Principles not only of direct res-judicata but of constructive res-judicata are also applied, if by any judgment or order any matter in issue has been directly and explicitly decided, the decision operates as res-judicata and bars the trial of an identical issue in a subsequent proceedings between the same parties. The Principle of res judicata comes into play when by judgment and order a decision of a particular issue is implicit in if, that is, it must be deemed to have been necessarily decided by implications even then the Principle of res judicata on that issue is directly applicable. When any matter which might and ought to have been made a ground of defence or attack in a former proceeding but was not so made, then such a matter in the eye of law, to avoid multiplicity of litigation and to bring about finality in it, is deemed to have been constructively in issue and, therefore, is taken as decided.\”