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The doctrine Res Judicata has evolved from the English Common Law. It plays a crucial role in Administrative law. This maxim is used to prevent the re-judgment of matters which have already been decided upon. This doctrine is also known as the “Rule of Conclusiveness of Judgment” is covered under Section 11 of the Civil Procedure Code.

This doctrine has been explained in the famous landmark case – Satyadhyan Ghosal v. Deorjin Debi. In the above-mentioned case, the judgment was given by Hon’ble Justice Das Gupta in which he said that “The principle of Res Judicata is based on the need of giving finality to the judicial decisions”, it was then established that in Doctrine of Res Judicata, no person could be disputed twice for the same reason, secondly it is the State that decides whether there should be an end to litigation and lastly that a judicial decision must be accepted as the correct decision.

Landmark Cases:

In Daryao v. State of UttarPradesh the doctrine’s universal application established that under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution if a Writ Petition is dismissed by the High Court on its merits, it would be treated Res Judicata if a similar case is filed in the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution. Similarly, in Devilal Modi v. Sales Tax Officer, it was concluded that since the petition filed in the supreme court was similar to that which was filed in the High Court consisting of the same parties and the High Court had already passed an order which was not challenged, the case filed under Article 32 was dismissed by the Hon’ble Judges. In the unusual case of Avtar Singh v. Jagjit Singh when the case was filed in the Civil Court, it was held that the case did not fall under the purview of its jurisdiction thereby dismissing it. When the same case was filed under the Revenue Court same decision was passed and lastly when again the case was presented before the Civil Court, this time it was dismissed on the basis of Res Judicata. On appeal to the High Court, it was held that if the defendant did not appear and the court by itself dismisses the plaint on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction the order may not be Res Judicata however if the defendant appeared after which the question of jurisdiction was raised it would appear to be Res Judicata if the suit was filed again in the same court. In Mathura Prasad v. Dossabai N.B. Jeejeebhoy, it was held that if the cause of action is different or the law is different although the decision is already made by the authority, the decision will be declared as valid but Res Judicata would not operate in the subsequent proceedings.


“Qui facit per alium facit per se” is a Latin term that means, “he who acts through another does the act himself

It is a fundamental legal maxim of the law of agency and is often stated in discussing the liability of the employer for the act of employee in terms of vicarious liability.

Its origin in the legal presumption is that all acts done by or on the master’s express or implied authority are the acts of his master for which he may be justly held responsible.

In Deo Narain Rai and Anr. vs Kukur Bind and Ors., (1902) ILR 24 All 319 the Allahabad High Court held that “In accordance with the maxim qui facit per alium facit per se, a signature by the authorized agent of a mortgagor is sufficient. In common law, where a person authorizes another to sign for him, the signature of the person so signing is the signature of the person authorizing it.”

In Mannat Singh And Anr. vs State, 1959 SCC OnLine MP 32: AIR 1960 MP 151: 1960 Cri LJ 611 the Madhya Pradesh High Court held that “Criminal Jurisprudence does not recognize the principle of vicarious liability; the master cannot be punished for the actions of his servant unless the master abetted it or there is some legislative enactment which provides otherwise.”

Hence, the maxim generally has its implication and application in civil law and not criminal law.


Laws and legislations are made keeping in mind the best interests of the people. Every important word or term in an act/ legislation/ statute has a certain meaning which is assigned to it by the makers of those acts. However, while deciding cases, the interpretations of the makers and of the executors may differ and this can lead to inconsistencies of law. Therefore, certain rules of interpretation of statues need to be abided. One such rule is stated through the maxim Noscitur a sociis

The word ‘Noscere’ means ‘to know’ and ‘Sociis’ means ‘association’ hence Noscitur a sociis is a Latin expression which means ‘the meaning of a word may be known from accompanying/ associating words.’ This rule of interpretation is used when an important term is stated ambiguously in a statute or when a word cannot be explained on its own, or is not properly defined, it can be understood in terms of the other words that it is read out with.

In the Case Commissioner of Income Tax v. Bharti Cellular, the term ‘technical services’ was under question. It was held in this case that this term as defined in section 194J of the Income Tax Act was ambiguous and therefore it has to be understood by the meaning of the words that come before and after it. Two of such words were ‘managerial services’ & ‘consultancy services’ and therefore it was held that the term ‘technical services’ would also involve tasks of human involvement.

Such is the use and interpretation of this maxim. Other cases that can be used to see the application of this maxim are:

Mangoo Singh v. Election Tribunal AIR 1957 SC 871

Parsons Brinckerhoff India (P.) Ltd. vs. Asstt. DIT (Int. Tax)

Pradeep Agarbatti, Ludhiana v. State of Punjab AIR 1998 SC 171


The Latin maxim De Minimis Non Curat Lex means the law does not govern trifles or that the law ignores insignificant details specifically the ones that a reasonable person of ordinary temper would not complain about.

In Coward v. Badley (1859) 4 H & N 478, a bystander touched a fireman’s arm to bring his attention to another part of the building which was on fire. The fireman then bought a suit against the bystander for battery however, the Court held that it was a trivial act and would not amount to tort.

The maxim has been applied and upheld in various Indian judgements like, Foods, Fats & Fertilisers Ltd., Vs. Commissioner of C. Ex. Guntur [2011 (22) STR 484] and State of Bihar and Ors. Vs. Harihar Prasad Debuka and Ors [AIR 1989 SC 1119], wherein the Court laid down-

“The checking of documents or the filling in and submission of Forms and returns, detour to a public weigh-bridge and the like may be an inconvenience, and unless they are shown to be unreasonable and not in public interest the court may apply the maxim ‘de minimis non curat lex’.”

However, the exception to this maxim has been laid down in Helford v. Bailey, where X casts and draws net in water and where Y has an exclusive right of fishing. In this case X has committed a tort no matter how trivial it is because the act if repeated has the potential of taking away Y’s right and hence the maxim will not be invoked.


Ordinarily, in tort law, the defendant/ tort-feasor will be held liable given all essentials are fulfilled, however, there are some general defences available to him/her to get rid of the liability arising out of the tort. These are known as ‘General defences’ in the law of tort. The defences available are as follows:

  1. Volenti non fit injuria – When a person consents to infliction of some harm upon himself, he/she has no remedy for that in tort. Essentials to be proved for taking this defence are- 1. The plaintiff knew that the risk exists and 2. knowing the same, he/she agreed to suffer the harm.

In Hall v. Brooklands Auto Racing Club, the plaintiff was a spectator at a motor car race on a track owned by the defendant company. During the race, there was a collision between two cars, one of which was thrown among the spectators, thereby injuring the plaintiff. It was held that the plaintiff implicitly took the risk of such an injury. The danger is inherent in the sport which any spectator could foresee hence, the defendant was not liable. In this defence, it is also necessary that the plaintiff’s consent is free.

  1. Plaintiff the wrongdoer – The law excuses the defendant when the act done by the plaintiff itself was illegal or wrong. This defence arises from the Latin maxim “ex turpi causa non oritur action” which means no action arises from an immoral cause. In Bird v Holbrook, the plaintiff, who trespassed over the defendant’s land was entitled to claim compensation for injury caused by a spring gun used by the defendant, without notice, in his garden.
  2. Inevitable Accident – Accident means an unexpected injury and if the same could not have been foreseen or avoided, in spite of reasonable care on the part of the defendant, then it can be termed as an inevitable accident. It is, therefore, a good defence if the defendant can show that he/she neither intended to injure the plaintiff nor could he/she avoid the injury by taking reasonable care. In Stanley v. Powell, the defendant and the plaintiff went to a pheasant shooting. The defendant fired at a pheasant but the bullet after getting reflected by a tree hit the plaintiff and he suffered serious injuries. The incident was considered an inevitable accident and the defendant was held not liable.
  3. Act of God – It is a kind of inevitable accident in which the natural forces play their role and cause the damage. For e.g., heavy rainfall, storms, etc. Essentials required for this defence are-

1. There must be working of natural forces. In Ramalinga Nadar v. Narayana Reddiar the plaintiff had booked goods with the defendant for transportation. The goods were looted by a mob, the prevention of which was beyond the control of the defendant. It was held that every event beyond the control of the defendant cannot be said to be the Act of God. Only those acts which can be traced to natural forces and which have nothing to do with the intervention of human agency that could be an aid to the act of God.2. Occurrence must be extraordinary. In Nichols v. Marshland, the defendant created an artificial lake on his land. Once there was an extraordinary rainfall, heaviest in human memory. The embankments of the lake got destroyed and washed away all the 4 bridges belonging to the plaintiff. The court held that the defendant was not liable as the same was an Act of God.

4. Private defence – The law has given permission to protect one’s life and property and for that, it has allowed the use of reasonable force to protect oneself and one’s property. But, the use of force is justified only for the purpose of self-defence and there should be an imminent threat to a person’s life or property. In Bird v. Halbrook, the defendant, had kept a spring gun in his garden, since flowers were often stolen from his garden. The plaintiff, a boy whose fowl had strayed away, jumped into the defendant’s garden to search for it. He had no knowledge about the gun there and got injured. The court held that the defendant was liable since he had exceeded the right of private defence to his property.

5.Mistake – Mistake, whether of fact or of law, is generally no defence to an action for tort. In Consolidated Company v. Curtis, an auctioneer auctioned some goods of his customer, believing that the goods belonged to him. But then the true owner filed a suit against the auctioneer for the tort of conversion. The court held the auctioneer liable and mentioned that the mistake of fact is not a defence that can be pleaded here. To this rule, there is some exception when the defender may be able to avoid his/her liability by showing that he/she acted under an honest but mistaken belief.

6) Necessity – If an act is done to prevent greater harm, even though the act was done intentionally, is not actionable and serves as a good defence. In Cope v. Sharpe, the defendant entered the plaintiff’s premises to stop the spread of fire in the adjoining land where the defendant’s master had the shooting rights. Since the defendant’s act was to prevent greater harm so he was held not liable for trespass. If that interference is not reasonably necessary, the defender will be liable. In Carter v. Thomas, the defender, who entered the plaintiff’s premises in good faith to extinguish a fire at which the fireman had already been working, was held liable for trespass.

7) Statutory Authority – If an act is authorized by a statute or legislation, then it is not actionable even if it would constitute a tort otherwise. It is a complete defence and the injured party has no remedy except for claiming compensation as may have been provided by the statute. In Bhogilal v. Municipality of Ahmedabad, case, the defendant demolished a wall of the plaintiffs under their statutory powers. The roof of the plaintiff also collapsed in the process. The court held that no suit will lie against the defendant, as they have carried out their duty under statutory powers although the plaintiff has suffered injury.


Ex Turpi Causa Non Oritur Actio is a legal doctrine which means from an immoral cause no action arises. It applies to cases where a plaintiff loses his right to pursue a legal remedy if the same emerges in connection with his own illegal act. Thus, if the basis of the plaintiff’s action is unlawful, in general, he/ she will not succeed. This maxim is often used as a general defence in cases of civil wrongs of tort, contract and trusts.

In terms of contract, it allows the courts to deny contractual remedy on a defendant if the very subject matter of the contract is directly or by implication, contrary to the public policy or in contradiction with any existing law or custom.

Under torts, it does not outrightly disable the plaintiff from recovering and is not a complete bar on claim for damage. He/ she may claim compensation if the wrongful act is quite independent of the harm caused to him. However, he/ she may lose this action if the wrongful act is the real cause of his harm. The case could be that of contributory negligence, wherein, the compensation payable is reduced in proportion to his own fault in matter.In National Coal Board v England, the Court observed- If two burglars, A and B, agree to open a safe by means of explosives, and A so negligently handles the explosive charge as to injure B, then B might find some difficulty in maintaining an action for negligence against A.In the case of Patel v. Mirza (2016) UKSC 42, the court replaced this doctrine with a new set of principles. In this case, the claimant had given money to the defendant for using insider information which is an offence. However, the information ended up being false and the plaintiff filed the suit to recover the amount. The court ruled that the defendant would be unjustly enriched which was against public interest. Thus, the plaintiff was allowed to recover the amount allowing restitution of both parties.

Therefore, the public conscience test was upheld by the court.


Cursus curiae est lex curiaeis a Latin maxim which means practice of the Court is law of the Court, i.e. the course of procedure followed by the Courts becomes the law of the Court especially in absence of any other prevailing law. This maxim was established by Coke C.J. in Burrowes v. High Commission Court, 3 Bulst. 48, 53; (1701) 3 Bulst. Calcutta HC. The maxim was re-iterated by the Apex Court in various Indian Judgements, for instance, in Collector of Central Excise, Madras Vs. Standard Motor Products and Ors. [AIR 1989 SC 1298] and Jamal Uddin Ahmad v. Abu Saleh Najmuddin [(2003) 4 SCC 257]. The maxim holds great significance since it is often applied by the Courts in various cases.

In Indore Development Authority v. Manohar Lal [2019 SCC Online SC 1392] the Supreme Court denied a plea seeking the recusal of a judge on the grounds that he had already adjudged on the similar subject matter and held that since it is the practice of the Indian Courts that the judges do hear the same cases, the non-recusal by retired justice Arun Mishra was valid in law. However, this maxim cannot be applied in presence of explicit laws unless the situation demands otherwise i.e. unless the laws do not extend to the extraordinary situation.