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CASE LAW ON JUDGMENT IN REM AND PERSONAM

Hon'ble Supreme Court in Director of Technical Education and Anr. v. Smt. K. Sitadevi AIR 1991 SC 308 wherein the Court has categorically held that the judgment and decree of a Civil Court was not binding on the Department for the reason that it was not a party to the Suit.
Surinder Kumar v. Gian Chand, AIR 1957 SC 875, wherein it was held that the judgment of a Probate Court granting probate of a will in favour of the petitioner is presumed to have been obtained in accordance with the procedure prescribed by law and it is a judgment in rem. Judgments in rem as already observed above, are judgments binding on the whole world."
Hon'ble the Supreme Court while placing reliance on its earlier judgment in the case of R. Viswanathan v. Rukn-ul-Mulk Syed Abdul Wajid, AIR 1963 SC 1, went on to observe that the judgments in rem as per provisions of Section 41 of the Evidence Act would not exclude an inquiry as to whether the judgment has been pronounced by a Court of competent jurisdiction as contemplated by Section 13 of the Code or it was obtained by fraud or collusion. In that regard reliance has been placed on Section 44 of the Evidence Act, which laid down an overriding principle that if a judgment, order or decree which is relevant under Sections 40, 41 or 42, has been delivered by a Court not competent to deliver it or it was obtained by fraud or collusion then such judgment and decree is liable to be ignored. ………….. A foreign Court being incompetent to try a suit relating to immovable property not situate within its jurisdiction the grounds on which its decision relating to title to immovable property within its jurisdiction is founded will not debar investigation into title to other property within the jurisdiction of the municipal courts, even if the latter properties are alleged to be held on the same title. Every issue and every component of the issue relating to title to immovable property must be decided by the Court within whose jurisdiction it is situate: to recognise the authority of a foreign court to adjudicate upon even a component of that issue would be to recognize the authority of that Court to decide all the components thereof."
Case of Smt. Satya v. Teja Singh, (1975) 1 SCC 120, the judgment and decree of divorce passed by a Court in Nevada was completely disregarded by the Courts in India because the Courts of this country reached the conclusion that the decree was passed by the Court of in-competent jurisdiction, which cannot be accepted by the Courts in India. Hon'ble the Supreme Court observed that no country is bound by comity to give effect in its courts to divorce laws of another country which are repugnant to its own laws and public policy. The judgment and decree was also found to be delivered by a Court which has no jurisdiction and it was obtained fraudulently.
The aforementioned principles have been followed and applied by Hon'ble the Supreme Court in later judgments in the cases of Sankaran Govindan v. Lakshmi Bharathi, (1975) 3 SCC 351; R.S.A. No. 563 of 1980 17 Y. Narasimha Rao v. Y. Venkata Lakshmi, (1991) 3 SCC 451; and Rohini Damji Sidpra v. Freny Damji Sidpra, (2001) 10 SCC 588.
In Gurdit Singh and Ors. v. State of Punjab and Ors. , 1974 AIR 1791, 1974 SCR (3) 896 the Supreme Court explained as under: A judgment of a court is an affirmation, by the authorised societal agent of the State, speaking by the warrant of law and in the name of the State, of the legal consequences attending of proved or admitted state of facts. Its declaratory, determinative and adjudicatory function is its distinctive characteristic. Its recording gives an official certification to a pre-existing relation or establishes a new one on pre-existing grounds.
In State of Bihar and Ors. v. Sri Radha Krishna Singh and Ors., 1983 AIR 684, 1983 SCR (2) 808 the Hon'ble Supreme Court, while considering the scope of provisions of Sections 13 and 41 to 43 of the Act, to prove the admissibility of the earlier judgment, observed as under: It is also well settled that statements or declarations before persons of competent knowledge made ante litem motam are receivable to prove ancient rights of a public or general nature. ……….. The admissibility of such declarations is, however, considerably weakened if it pertains not to public rights but to purely private rights. It is equally well settled that declarations or statements made post litem motam would not be admissible because in cases or proceedings taken or declarations made ante litem motam, the element of bias and concoction is eliminated. Before, however, the statements of the nature mentioned above can be admissible as being ante litem motam they must not only be before the actual existence of any controversy, but should be made even before the commencement of legal proceedings. ……………. This position however cannot hold good of statements made post litem motam which would be clearly inadmissible in evidence. The reason for this rule seems to be that after a dispute has begun or a legal proceeding is about to commence, the possibility of bias, concoction or putting up false pleas cannot be ruled out.
(i) A judgment in rem e.g, judgments or orders passed in admirally, probate proceedings, etc, would always be admissible irrespective of whether they are inter partes or not;
(ii) judgment in personam not inter partes are not at all admissible in evidence except for the three purposes mentioned above.
(iii) on a parity of aforesaid reasoning, the recitals In a judgment like findings given in appreciation of evidence made or arguments or genealogies referred to in the judgment would be wholly in admissible in a case where neither the plaintiffs nor the defendants were parties.
(iv) The probative value of documents which, however ancient they may be, do not disclose sources of their information or have not achieved sufficient notoriety. is precious little.
(v) Statements, declarations or depositions, etc., would not be admissible if they are post litem motam

In Raje Anandrao v. Shamrao and Ors. , 1961 AIR 1206, 1961 SCR (3) 930 the Supreme Court held that suit under Section 92 of the Code is of public nature and unless the scheme of administration or modification thereof regarding administration of the temple not affecting the private rights of Pujaris who are not parties to the suit, is binding on them. Similar view has been reiterated in Ahmed Adam Sait and Ors. v. M.E. Makhri and Ors. AIR 1964 SC 107, observing that when a representative suit is brought and decree is passed in such a suit, law assumes that all persons, who have the same interest as the plaintiffs in the representative suit, were represented by the said plaintiffs and, therefore, are constructively barred, by the res-judicata, from re-agitating the matters directly or substantively in issue in the said suit. A similar rule follows if the suit is either filed or defended under Order 1 Rule 8 of the Code. In that case, persons either suing or defending an action, are doing so in a representative capacity and, so, the decree passed in such a suit binds all those whose interests were represented either by the plaintiffs or by the defendant.
In Surinder Kumar and Ors. v. Gyan Chand and Ors., AIR 1957 SC 875, the Hon'ble Supreme Court held that probate of the will operates as a judgment in rem, therefore, the, objection that the parties in any subsequent proceedings were not parties to it, is not sustainable because of the nature of the judgment.
In Smt. Satya v. Teja Singh, AIR 1975 SC 105, the Supreme Court observed as under :- "Section 41 of the Indian Evidence Act provides, to the extent material, that a final judgment of the Competent Court, in the exercise of matrimonial jurisdiction, is conclusive proof that a legal character, which it confers or takes away, accrued or ceased at the time declared in the judgment for that purpose. But, the judgment has to be of a Competent Court, i.e., a Court having jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter. Even a judgment in rem is, therefore, open to attack on the ground that the Court, which gave it, had no jurisdiction to do so."

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