In the case of ‘Daryao v. state of UP (1962)’, an important question arose before the court whether res judicata applicable in writ petitions.

In this case, six petitions came before the court under Article 32 of the Constitution, though the parties were unconnected with one another but the issue of these petitions was same. The respondent raised the plea that High Court under Article 226, has dismissed these petitions and therefore these petitions can’t be entertained by the court due to bar of doctrine of Res Judicata.

The Analysis of the Court

 The Supreme Court after considering the facts in the case, analysed the case as follows-

  • “The fundamental rights are intended not only to protect individual’s rights but they are based on high public policy. Liberty of the individual and the protection of his fundamental rights are the very essence of the democratic way of life adopted by the Constitution, and it is the privilege and the duty of this Court to uphold those rights. This Court would naturally refuse to circumscribe them or to curtail them except as provided by the Constitution itself.
  • The right given to the citizen to move this Court by a petition under Art. 32 and claim an appropriate writ against the unconstitutional infringement of his fundamental rights itself is a matter of fundamental right, and in dealing with the objection based on the application of the rule of res judicata this aspect of the matter had no doubt to be borne in mind.
  • But, is the rule of res judicata merely a technical rule or is it based on high public policy? If the rule of res judicata itself embodies a principle of public policy which in turn is an essential part of the rule of law then the objection that the rule cannot be invoked where fundamental rights are in question may lose much of its validity.
  • Now, the rule of res judicata as indicated in s. 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure has no doubt, some technical aspects, for instance the rule of constructive res judicata may be said to be technical; but the basis on which the said rule rests is founded on considerations of public policy. It is in the interest of the public at large that a finality should attach to the binding decisions pronounced by Courts’ of competent jurisdiction, and it is also in the public interest that individuals should not be vexed twice over with the same kind of litigation.
  • If these two principles form the foundation of the general rule of res judicata they cannot be treated as irrelevant or inadmissible even in dealing with fundamental rights in petitions filed under Art. 32.
  • If a judgment has been pronounced by a court of competent jurisdiction it is binding between the parties unless it is reversed or modified by appeal, revision or other procedure prescribed by law. Therefore, if a judgment has been pronounced by the High Court in a writ petition filed by a party rejecting his prayer for the issue of an appropriate writ on the ground either that he had no fundamental right as pleaded by him or there has been no contravention of the right proved or that the contravention is justified by the Constitution itself, it must remain binding between the parties unless it is attacked by adopting the procedure prescribed by the Constitution itself.

The binding character of judgments pronounced by courts of competent jurisdiction is itself an essential part of the rule of law, and the rule of law obviously is the basis of the administration of justice on which the Constitution lays so much emphasis.

  • In other words, an original petition for a writ under Art. 32 cannot take the place of an appeal against the order passed by the High Court in the petition filed before it under Art. 226. There can be little doubt that the jurisdiction of this Court to entertain applications under Art. 32 which are original cannot be confused or mistaken or used for the appellate jurisdiction of this Court which alone can be invoked for correcting errors in the decisions of High Courts pronounced in writ petitions under Art. 226.

Thus, on general considerations of public policy there seems to be no reason why the rule of res judicata should be treated as inadmissible or irrelevant in dealing with petitions filed under Art. 32 of the Constitution.

It is true that the general rule can be invoked only in cases where a dispute between the parties has been referred to a court of competent jurisdiction, there has been a contest between the parties before the court, a fair opportunity has been given to both of them to prove their case, and at the end the court has pronounced its judgment or decision.

Such a decision pronounced by a court of competent jurisdiction is binding between the parties unless it is modified or reversed by adopting a procedure prescribed by the Constitution. In our opinion, therefore, the plea that the general rule of res judicata should not be allowed to be invoked cannot be sustained.”


Daryao v. State of UP (1961)