CPC Case Brief – Sushil Kumar Mehta v.  Gobind Ram Bohra

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Facts- In this case, the respondent filed a suit (before senior sub-judge) for the ejection of the appellant and also the arrears due to his non-payment of rent. The decision to the suit was given ex parte. The application under Order 9, Rule 13 C.P.C. to set aside the ex parte decree was dismissed and was confirmed on appeal and later in revision by the High Court. When the respondent came for execution of ejectment decision the appellant objected that according to him the Controller under the Act was the competent authority regarding claims for ejectment and by necessary implication, the civil Court was divested of jurisdiction to take cognisance and pass a decree for ejectment. That objection was overruled on a further revision to the High Court also failed. Simultaneously the appellant had also filed a writ petition under article 227 of the Constitution which was also dismissed. The plaintiff then filed an appeal by special leave to the Supreme Court.

Issue- Whether the doctrine of res judicata applies to a case of a decree of nullity?

Judgement-A question relating to jurisdiction of a court or interpretation of provisions of a statute cannot be deemed to have been finally determined by an erroneous decision of a court. Therefore the doctrine of res judicata does not apply to a case of a decree of nullity. If the court inherently lacks jurisdiction consent cannot confer jurisdiction. Where certain statutory rights in welfare legislation are created, the doctrine of waiver also does not apply to a case of decree where the court inherently lacks jurisdiction. Therefore in the instant case, though the decree was passed and the jurisdiction of the court was gone into an issue at the ex parte trial, the decree thereunder is a nullity and does not bind the appellant. Therefore it does not operate as res judicata.

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