Q. Explain Decree, Order, and Judgment and distinguish between them. What are the essential elements of a decree? What are the kinds of decree? What are the consequences of non appearance of parties? What is an ex parte decree? Discuss the remedies available to a defendant against whom an ex parte decree has been passed. All questions regarding execution of a decree shall be determined by the court executing the decree and not by
http://hanumant.com/CPC-Decree.html a separate suit. Explain.
In a civil suit several facts might be alleged and the court may be required to rule on several claims. In simple terms, a decree is the ruling of the court regarding the claims of the parties of the suit. For example, in a suit between A and B, A may claim that a particular property P belongs A. After hearing all the arguments, the court will rule in the favor of either A or B. The final decision of the court regarding this claim i.e. whether the property belongs to A or B, is a decree.
As per Section 2(2), a decree is the formal expression of an adjudication which, so far as regards the Court expressing it, conclusively determines the rights of the parties with regard to all or any of the matters in controversy in the suit. It can be final or preliminary.
From the above definition we can see the following essential elements of a decree -
1. There must be an adjudication - Adjudication means Judicial Determination of the matter in dispute. In other words, the court must have applied its mind on the facts of the case to resolve the matter in dispute. For example, dismissing a suite because of default in appearance of the plaintiff is not a decree. But dismissing a suite on merits of the case would be a decree.
2. There must be a suit - Decree can only be given in relation to a suit. Although CPC does not define what suit means, in Hansraj vs Dehradun Mussoorie Tramways Co. Ltd. AIR 1933, the Privy Council defined the term suit as "a civil proceeding instituted by the presentation of a plaint".
3. Rights of the parties - The adjudication must be about any or all of the matters in controversy in the suit. The word right means substantive rights and not merely procedural rights. For example, an order refusing leave to sue in forma pauperis (i.e. an order rejecting the application of a poor plaintiff to waive court costs) is not a decree because it does not determine the right of the party in regards to the matters alleged in the suit.
4. Conclusive Determination - The determination of the right must be conclusive. This means that the court will not entertain any argument to change the decision. I.e. as far as the court is concerned, the matter in issue stands resolved. For example, an order striking out defence of a tenant under a relevant Rent Act, or an order refusing an adjournment is not a decree as they do not determine the right of a party conclusively. On the other hand, out of several properties in issue in a suit, the court may make a conclusive determination about the ownership of a particular property. Such a conclusive determination would be a decree even though it does not dispose off the suit completely.
5. Formal expression - To be a decree, the court must formally express its decision in the manner provided by law. A mere comment of the judge cannot be a decree.
Examples of decisions which are Decrees - Dismissal of appeal as time barred, Dismissal or a suit or appeal for want of evidence or proof, Order holding appeal to be not maintainable.
Examples of decisions which are not Decrees - Dismissal of appeal for default, order of remand, order granting interim relief.
As per Section 2 (14), The formal expression of any decision of a civil court which is not a Decree is Order. In a suit, a court may take certain decisions on objective considerations and those decisions must contain a discussion of the matters at issue in the suit and the reasons which led the court to pass the order. However, if those decisions fall short of a decree, they are orders.
Thus, there are several common elements between an order and a decree - both related to matter in controversy, both are decisions given by the court, both are adjudications, both are formal expressions. However, there are substantial differences between them -
|Decree - S. 2(2)||Order S. 2(14)|
|Can only be passed in a suit originated by the presentation of a plaint.||Can be passed in a suit originated by the presentation of a plaint, application, or petition.|
|Contains Conclusive Determination of a right||May or may not finally determine a right.|
|May be final, preliminary, or partly preliminary - partly final.||Cannot be a preliminary order.|
|In general, there can only be one decree or at the most one preliminary and one final decree in a suit.||There can be any number of orders in a suit.|
|Every decree is appealable unless an appeal is expressly barred.||Only those orders which are specified as appealable in the code are appealable.|
|A second appeal may lie against a decree to a High Court on certain grounds.||There is no second appeal for orders.|
JudgementAs per Section 2 (9), "judgment" means the statement given by the judge of the grounds of a decree or order. Every judgment should contain - a concise statement of the case, the points for determination, the decision thereon, the reasons for the decision. In the case of Balraj Taneja vs Sunil Madan, AIR 1999, SC held that a Judge cannot merely say "Suit decreed" or "Suit dismissed". The whole process of reasoning has to be set out for deciding the case one way or the other.
As per Rule 6 A of Order 20 the last part of the judgment should precisely state tge relief granted. Thus, a judgment is a state prior to the passing of a decree or an order. After pronouncement of a judgment, a decree shall follow.
Kinds of Decree
Preliminary - Where an adjudication decides the rights of the parties with regard to all or any of the matters in controversy in the suit but does not completely dispose of the suit, it is a preliminary decree. It is passed when the court needs to adjudicate upon some matters before proceeding to adjudicate upon the rest.
In Shankar vs Chandrakant SCC 1995, SC stated that a preliminary decree is one which declares the rights and liabilities of the parties leaving the actual result to be worked out in further proceedings.
CPC provides for passing a preliminary decrees in several suits such as - suit for possession and mesne profits, administration suit, suits for pre-emption, dissolution of partnership, suits relating to mortgage. In Narayanan vs Laxmi Narayan AIR 1953, it was held that the list given in CPC is not exhaustive and a court may pass a preliminary decree in cases not expressly provided for in the code.
Final - When the decree disposes of the suit completely, so far as the court passing it is concerned, it is a final decree. A final decree settles all the issues and controversies in the suit.
Party preliminary and partly final - When a decree resolves some issues but leaves the rest open for further decision, such a decree is partly final and party preliminary. For example, in a suit for possession of immovable property with mesne profits, where the court decrees possession of the property and directs an enquiry into the mesne profits, the former part of the decree is final but the latter part is preliminary.
Deemed Decree - The word "deemed" usually implies a fiction whereby a thing is assumed to be something that it is ordinarily not. In this case, an adjudication that does not fulfill the requisites of S. 2 (2) cannot be said to be a decree. However, certain orders and determinations are deemed to be decrees under the code. For example, rejection of a plaint and the determination of questions under S. 144 (Restitution) are deemed decrees.
Consequences of Non appearance of parties (Order 9)
The general provisions of CPC are based on the principle that both the parties must be given an opportunity to be heard. The proceedings must not be held to the disadvantage of one party. Order 9 lays down rules regarding the appearance and the consequences of non appearance of a party in the hearing.
Rule 1 - Parties to appear on day fixed in summons for defendant to appear and answer— On the day fixed in the summons for the defendant to appear and answer, the parties shall be in attendance at the Court-house in person or by their respective pleaders, and the suit shall then be heard unless the hearing is adjourned to a future day fixed by the Court.
Dismissal of Suit
Rule 2 - Dismissal of suit where summons not served in consequence of plaintiffs failure to pay cost— Where on the day so fixed it is found that the summons has not been served upon the defendant in consequence of the failure of the plaintiff to pay the court-fee or postal charges (if any) chargeable for such service, or to present copies of the plaint or concise statements, as required by rule 9 of order VII, the Court may make an order that the suit be dismissed :
Provided that no such order shall be made, if, notwithstanding such failure the defendant attends in person (or by agent when he is allowed to appear by agent) on the day fixed for him to appear and answer.
Rule 3 - Where neither party appears, suit to be dismissed— Where neither party appears when the suit is called on for hearing, the Court may make an order that the suit be dismissed.
Rule 4 - Plaintiff may bring fresh suit or Court may restore suit to file— Where a suit is dismissed under rule 2 or rule 3, the plaintiff may (subject to the law of limitation) bring a fresh suit, or he may apply for an order to set the dismissal aside, and if he satisfies the Court that there was sufficient cause for such failure as is referred to in rule 2, or for his non-appearance, as the case may be, the Court shall make an order setting aside the dismissal and shall appoint a day for proceeding with the suit.
Rule 5 - Dismissal of suit where plaintiff after summons returned unserved, fails for one month to apply for fresh summons—
(1) Where after a summons has been issued to the defendant, or to one of several defendants, and returned unserved the plaintiff fails, for a periods of one month from the date of the return made to the Court by the officer ordinarily certifying to the Court returns made by the serving officers, to apply for the issue of a fresh summons the Court shall make an order that the suit be dismissed as against such defendant, unless the plaintiff has within the said period satisfied the Court that—
(a) he has failed after using his best endeavours to discover the residence of the defendant, who has not been served, or
(b) such defendant is avoiding service of process, or
(c) there is any other sufficient cause for extending the time, in which case the Court may extend the time for making such application for such period as it thinks fit.
(2) In such case the plaintiff may (subject to the law of limitation) bring a fresh suit.
Ex parte Proceedings
Rule 6 - Procedure when only plaintiff appears—
(1) Where the plaintiff appears and the defendant does not appear when the suit is called on for hearing, then—
(a) When summons duly served—if it is proved that the summons was duly served, the Court may make an order that the suit shall be heard ex parte.
(b) When summons not duly served—if it is not proved that the summons was duly serve, the Court shall direct a second summons to be issued and served on the defendant;
(c) When summons served but not in due time—if it is proved that the summons was served on the defendant, but not in sufficient time to enable him to appear and answer on the day fixed in the summons, the Court shall postpone the hearing of the suit to future day to be fixed by the Court, and shall direct notice of such day to be given to the defendant.
(2) Where it is owing to the plaintiffs' default that the summons was not duly served or was not served in sufficient time, the Court shall order the plaintiff to pay the costs occasioned by the postponement.
Rule 7 - Procedure where defendant appears on day of adjourned hearing and assigns good cause for previous non-appearance— Where the Court has adjourned the hearing of the suit ex-parte and the defendant, at or before such hearing, appears and assigns good cause for his previous non-appearance, he may, upon such terms as the Court directs as to costs or otherwise, be heard in answer to the suit as if he had appeared on the day, fixed for his appearance.
Absence of Plaintiff
Rule 8 - Procedure where defendant only appears— Where the defendant appears and the plaintiff does not appear when the suit is called on for hearing, the Court shall make an order that the suit be dismissed, unless the defendant admits the claim or part thereof, in which case the Court shall pass a decree against the defendant upon such admission, and, where part only of the claim has been admitted, shall dismiss the suit so far as it relates to the remainder.
Rule 9 - Decree against plaintiff by default bars fresh suit—
(1) Where a suit is wholly or partly dismissed under rule 8, the plaintiff shall be precluded from bringing a fresh suit in respect of the same cause of action. But he may apply for an order to set the dismissal aside, and if he satisfies the Court that there was sufficient cause for his non-appearance when the suit was called on for hearing, the Court shall make an order setting aside the dismissal upon such terms as to costs or otherwise as it thinks fit. and shall appoint a day for proceeding with suit.
(2) No order shall be made under this rule unless notice of the application has been served on the opposite party.
Multiple plaintiffs and/or Defendants
Rule 10 - Procedure in case of non-attendance of one or more of several plaintiffs— Where there are more plaintiffs than one, and one or more of them appear, and the others do not appear, the Court may, at the instance of the plaintiff or plaintiffs appearing, permit the suit to proceed in the same way as if all the plaintiffs had appeared, or make such order as it thinks fit.
Rule 11 - Procedure in case of non-attendance of one or more of several defendants— Where there are more defendants than one, and one or more of them appear, and the others do not appear, the suit shall proceed, and the Court shall, at the time of pronouncing judgment, make such order as it thinks fit with respect to the defendants who do not appear.
General Consequence of Non appearance
Rule 12 - Consequence of non-attendance, without sufficient cause shown, of party ordered to appear in person— Where a plaintiff or defendant, who has been ordered to appear in person, does not appear in person, or show sufficient cause to the satisfaction of the Court for failing so to appear, he shall be subject to all the provisions of the foregoing rules applicable to plaintiffs and defendants, respectively who do no appear.
This means either the suit will be dismissed or will be continued ex parte.
Ex parte Decree (Order 9)
As per Rule 6, if the defendant fails to appear before the court in spite of a proper service of the summons, the court may proceed ex-parte and may pass a decree in favor of the plaintiff. This is called an ex-parte decree. In the case of Hochest Company vs V S Chemical Company, SC explained that an ex parte decree is such decree in which defendant did not appear before court and the case is heard in the absence of the defendant from the very beginning.
Remedies available to the defendant against an ex parte decree
1. Application to set aside the ex parte decree - As per Order 9, Rule 13, a defendant may apply before the court that passed the decree to set it aside. If he satisfies the court that the summons was not duly served or he was prevented by any other sufficent cause from attending the hearding, the court shall make an order setting aside the decree. For example, bona fide mistake as to the date or hearing, late arrival of train, etc. are sufficient causes for absence of the defendant. Such an application for setting aside may be made within 30 days from the date of decree as per Section 123 of Limitation Act.
Setting aside decrees ex parte
Rule 13 - Setting aside decree BIex parte against defendant— In any case in which a decree is passed ex parte against a defendant, he may apply to the Court by which the decree was passed for an order to set it aside; and if he satisfies the Court that the summons was not duly served, or that he was prevented by any sufficient cause from appearing when the suit was called on for hearing, the Court shall make an order setting aside the decree as against him upon such terms as to costs, payment into Court or otherwise as it thinks fit, and shall appoint a day for proceeding with the suit;
Provided that where the decree is of such a nature that it cannot be set aside as against such defendant only it may be set aside as against all or any of the other defendants also:
Provided further that no Court shall set aside a decree passed ex parte merely on the ground that there has been an irregularity in the service of summons, if it is satisfied that the defendant had notice of the date of hearing and had sufficient time to appear and answer the plaintiff's claim
Explanation.—Where there has been an appeal against a decree passed ex parte under this rule, and the appeal has been disposed of an any ground other than the ground that the appellant has withdrawn the appeal, no application shall lie under this rule for setting aside that ex parte decree.
Rule 14 - No decree to be set aside without notice to opposite party— No decree shall be set aside on any such application as aforesaid unless notice thereof has been served on the opposite party.
The court may impose conditions as it may deem fit on the defendant for setting asided the decree. It may ask the defendant to pay costs.
When an ex parte decree is set aside, the court should proceed to decide the suit as it stood before the decree. The trial should commence de novo and the evidence that had been recorded in the ex parte proceeding should not be taken into account.
This remedy is specifically meant for an ex parte decree.
2. Prefer an appeal against the decree under Section 96(2).
3. Apply for review under Order 47 Rule 1.
4. File a suit on the ground of fraud.
All the above remedies are concurrent and can be pursued concurrently.
Execution of a Decree
As per Section 38, a decree may be executed either by the court which passed it or the court to which it is sent for execution. While executing a decree, several questions and objections may arise as to the manner of execution. It would be impractical to institute new suits to resolves such matters. Thus, Section 47 lays down the general principal that any questions that arise in relation to the execution of the decree should be resolved in execution proceeding itself and not by a separate suit. Section 47 says thus -
47. Questions to be determined by the Court executing decree -
(1) All questions arising between the parties to the suit in which the decree was passed, or their representatives, and relating to the execution, discharge or satisfaction of the decree, shall be determined by the Court executing the decree and not by a separate suit.
(3) Where a question arises as to whether any person is or is not the representative of a party, such question shall, for the purposes of this section, be determined by the Court.
Explanation I.For the purposes of this section, a plaintiff whose suit has been dismissed and a defendant against whom a suit has been dismissed are parties to the suit.
Explanation II. (a) For the purposes of this section, a purchaser of property at a sale in execution of a decree shall be deemed to be a party to the suit in which the decree is passed; and
(b) all questions relating to the delivery of possession of such property to such purchaser or his representative shall be deemed to be questions relating to the execution, discharge or satisfaction of the decree within the meaning of this section.
The objective of this section is to provide cheap and fast remedy for the resolution of any questions arising at the time of execution. Institution of new suits would only increase the number of suits and would also be a burden on the parties.
The scope of this section is very wide. It confers exclusive jurisdiction to the court executing the decree in all the matters regarding the execution. It does not matter whether the matter has arisen before or after the execution of the decree. Thus, this section should be construed liberally.
1. The question must be one arising between the parties or their representatives to the suit in which the decree is passed.
2. The question must relate to the execution, discharge, or satisfaction of the decree.
As held in the case of Arokiaswamy vs Margaret AIR 1982, both the conditions must be satisfied cumulatively.
What is meant by execution, discharge and satisfaction of a decree -
This expression has not been defined in the code. However, the following questions are held to be relating to the execution, discharge and satisfaction of the decree -
whether a decree is executable, whether a property is liable to be solde in execution of a decree, whether the decree is fully satisfied, whether the execution of the decree was postponed.
The following questions have been held as not related - whether the decree is fraudulent or collusive, whether the decree has become inexecutable because of a compromise between the parties, a question about the territorial or pecuniary jurisdiction of the court passing the decree.
Appeal and Revision
Earlier, determination made under Section 47 was deemed to be a decree under Section 2(2). However, after the amendment in 1976, this is not so. Any determination made under an application under Section 47 is not considered a decree and is therefore not appealable under Section 96 or Section 100. Since it is no more a decree, a revision application under Section 115 is therefore maintainable provided the conditions stipulated in Section 115 are satisfied.