Devilal Modi v. Sales Tax Officer Ratlam [1965 SC]

Judgment Summarized by Delhi Law Academy – Jaipur

Petitioner in this case was assessed to sales tax and filed a writ petition to challenge the assessment. The petition was dismissed by the High Court and he came in appeal to this Court. He sought to make some additional contentions in this Court, but was not permitted to do so.

He therefore filed another writ petition in the High Court raising those additional contentions and challenged the order of assessment for the same year. The High Court dismissed the petition on merits, and the case came up again to this Court in appeal.

The question which specifically arose for consideration was whether the principle of constructive res judicata was applicable to writ petitions of that kind.

Judgment of the Supreme Court:

This rule [the rule of constructive res judicata] postulates that if a plea could have been taken by a party in a proceeding between him and his opponent, he would not be permitted to take that plea against the same party in a subsequent proceeding which is based on the same cause of action; but basically, even this view is founded on the same considerations of public policy, because if the doctrine of constructive res judicata is not applied to writ proceedings, it would be open to the party to take one proceeding after another and urge new grounds every time; and that plainly is inconsistent with considerations of public policy to which we have just referred.