Whether the principle of ‘Res Judicata’ applies to foreign judgment and what will be the effect of that judgment if it is obtained by fraud?

The Code of Civil Procedure provides that a foreign judgment shall be conclusive as to any matter thereby directly adjudicated upon between the same parties or between parties under whom they or any of them claim litigating under the same title except –

a) Where it has not been pronounced by court of competent jurisdiction;

b) Where it has not been given on the merits of the case;

c) Where it appears on the face of the proceeding to be founded on an incorrect view of international law or a refusal to recognize the law of India in cases in which such law is applicable;

d) Where the proceeding in which the judgment was obtained or opposed to natural justice.

e) Where it has been obtained by fraud.

f) Where it sustains a claim founded on a breach of any law in force in India

It has been held by Hon’ble Apex Court in the case of “Sankaran Govindan v/s. Lakshmi Bharathi” [reported in AIR 1974 SC 1764] that:

“It is a well-established principle of private international law that if a foreign judgment was obtained by fraud, or if the proceedings in which it was obtained were opposed to natural justice, it will not operate as res judicata. An action to set aside a judgment cannot be brought on the ground that it has been decided wrongly, namely that on the merits the decision was one which should not have been rendered, but if can be set aside if the Court was imposed upon or tricked into giving the judgment. A foreign judgment is impeachable for fraud in the sense that upon proof of fraud it cannot be enforced by action or operate as res judicata. The fraud relied upon must be extrinsic or collateral and not merely fraud which is imputed from alleged false statements made at the trial which were met with counter-statements and the whole adjudicated upon by Court and so passed into the limbo of estoppel by the judgment. That estoppel cannot be disturbed except upon allegation and proof of new and material facts which were not before the former Court and from which is to be deduced the new proposition that the former judgment was obtained by fraud. The fraud which vitiates a judgment must generally be fraud of the party in whose favour the judgment is obtained.”

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