How Decree, Order & Judgement differ?

Jan15,2021 #Decree #Judgement #Order

Ayaskanta Parida

There are varied foundational concepts in the legal domain which one does have to understand in order to comprehend various statutes and notions in law. This article would be useful in understanding three such concepts: judgement, decree and order.


A decree, defined in accordance with Section 2(2) of the Civil Procedure Code, is a formal expression that provides for a definitive determination of the interests of both parties with regard to any of the contested issues, problems or questions in a specific civil suit. It may include the dismissal of a complaint or the determination of any matter referred to in section 144, but it does not include the following: any adjudication to which an appeal relates to an order of appeal, any order of dismissal for failure to act.

We must interpret it as a subset of judgment in order to grasp the concept of a decree. It is the opinion reached on both sides of the case by the judge after hearing the merits, and also the expression of the same.

“Decree-holder” means any person in whose favor a decree has been passed or an order capable of execution has been made. “Judgment-debtor” means any person against whom a decree has been passed or an order capable of execution has been made.

Conditions for a decree-

There are a few simple requirements that need to be met so that a decree becomes an adjudication. There are:

  • A formal expression of adjudication has to be there. If a decree has not been drawn up, so the judgment has absolutely no scope for an appeal.
  • The adjudications come from a suit’s institution. Through making a lawsuit, a suit occurs, and the most appropriate outcome of a suit is the decree.
  • All the parties’ interests with regard to any or all of the contentious matters in a suit must have been dealt with. If it has not been the case, then a decree should not be considered the same.
  • This assessment of the parties’ rights needs to be definitive and not speculative.

According to Section 152 of the CPC, all clerical errors relating to decrees can be corrected by the courts themselves or by the plaintiffs on request. According to Section 153, however, the courts have the general power to amend and can amend at any time, as it considers necessary, any mistake or defect in the proceedings.

The corrections to which the courts are entitled only apply to unintended omissions or clerical errors and not to other errors which are caused by gross negligence or errors.

But the court must be assured before such a move and it must be validly shown that such a mistake was nothing more than a statistical error or a clerical error and nothing that changes or alters the very operation of the suit or anything done under malice.


Needless to say, the decree must be framed with the utmost caution and impeccable consistency by the judge, leaving no room for an apparent error.

The degree must comply with the decision and should be simple, succinct and precise as well. As well as what each party is ordered to do, the purpose and scope of the relief given must be explained in great detail. Such a declaration of the parties’ rights must be correct, clear and precise.

With regard to decrees, there are certain directions given that have been listed below:

  • In the case of possession of any agricultural land, a prior directive must be given as to whether or not the possession is wholly and immediately in respect of the whole of the land, or whether such possession can be made only after the removal of any crop on the property. In the declaration, this has to be confirmed.
  • In the case of decrees reaching the court of appeal, the court shall affirm, by means of wording, the requirements laid down by statute, and it shall state whether the decree of the lower court is upheld, varied, set aside or overturned. In the affirmation of the decree of the lower court, the terms of the decree shall be repeated in order to validate it. In modifying a decree, it is important to set out the relief given. Similarly, the relief whilst reversing a decree must be confirmed again to be granted at present.

Kinds of decree-

  1. Preliminary Decree: It is a preliminary decree when the court decides on all the matters concerning the parties to a suit, but nonetheless, does not dispose of the suit. This particularly happens when it is essential for the adjudication to adjudicate on certain matters of the suit before deciding on the rest. Supreme Court, in the case Shankar v Chandrakant, said that a preliminary decree is in use when the court decides on the rights and liabilities of the parties without deciding on the result, and in fact, leaving the pronouncement of the result for further proceedings. CPC allows the passing of the preliminary decree in cases relating to the settlement of mortgage, suits for preemption, dissolution of a partnership, administration suit, etc. But a case following this, Narayanan vs Laxmi Narayan, said that this list aforementioned, which is given in the CPC is not exhaustive and that preliminary decree can be used in other matters as well.
  2. Final Decree: When the suit is completely disposed of by the decree so far as a separate judgment by a court is uncalled for, it is called a final decree. All the problems, controversies and differences between the parties to a suit are completely resolved by the passing of a final decree.
  3. Partly Preliminary and Partly Final: When certain issues prevalent in the civil suit are resolved but certain others are left for future adjudication, such decree is called partly preliminary and partly final. For example, a decree for possession and mesne profits can be preliminary for mesne profits but final with regards to possession.
  4. Deemed Decree: There is a fictitious implication in the word ‘deemed’ which usually means that a thing is assumed to be something that it usually isn’t. Here, any adjudication that does not fulfill the requisites under 2(2) cannot be deemed to be a decree. However certain other orders and decisions are deemed to be decrees, for example, rejection of a plaint and determination of questions under Section 144.
  5. Consent Decree: A consent decree is a decree that is brought about by the agreement between both the parties that puts disputes to rest without admission of liability. It is the result of an adjudication and the very reason for such adjudication is the consent of the parties.
  6. Ex-parte Decree: A decree passed in the absence of the defendant is an ex- parte decree.
  7. Decree passed in Appeal: It is a decree passed in continuation of litigation between the parties.
  8. Decree on compromise Petition: It is passed as a result of compromise petition filed by both the parties.
  9. Conditional Decree: It is a decree with certain inbuilt conditions that form part of the decree.


Under section 2(14) of the Civil Procedure Code, the term Order has been described as the formal expression of any decision of a Civil Court which is not a decree. It is basically, the official formulation of every decision which is not a decree. It can be derived from a suit and typically arises from proceeds that begin on a request. It is based on reasonable principles and must also include a discussion of the different issues that are conflicting in a specific suit.

Conditions for an order-

  • It needs to be the official expression of any decision.
  • The Civil Court should announce the verdict.
  • A decree should not be a formal expression.


‘Judgement’, as specified in Section 2(9) of the Code of Civil Procedure, is a declaration made by the judge on the basis of a decree or order. A judgment must also set out the reasoning and reasons for the decision to be made by the judge.

In other words, a “judgement” is the decision of a Court of justice upon the respective rights and claims of the parties to an action in a suit submitted to it for determination, as stated in State of Tamil Nadu v. S. Thangaval.

As per Rule 4, Order XX of CPC, 1908; the essential ingredients of a Judgment other than that of a Court of Small Cause should contain-

  1. A concise statement of the case,
  2. The points for determination,
  3. The decision thereon, and
  4. The reason for such decision.

A small causes court can issue a judgement only with points b and c.

When a judgment has been dated and signed by the judge, it can be changed or revised only if:

  • Arithmetical or clerical mistakes occur. (Clerical errors refer to clerks’ errors, and arithmetical errors refer to numerical errors such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division).
  • Errors occur due to unintended slips or omissions (these errors occur when any critical element is left unnoticed) on analysis (Section 152) or on review (Section 114).


Pronouncing a judgment states the situation where after the hearing has been finished, i.e., after the Court has heard the pleadings of the parties, the Judges shall, after giving proper notice to the parties or their learned counsel, pronounce the judgment in an open court, either at once or at some future date. It has to be announced within 30 days of the completion of hearing.





Definition in CPC

Section 2(14)

Section 2(2)

Section 2(9)


May or may not establish.

Clearly established.

Definitive, Established through Order/Decree


There can be many orders.

There is only one decree.

It can be appealed in a higher court till the Supreme Court.


Can only be final.

Can be preliminary, final, partly preliminary or partly final.

Can only be final


Appealable or non- appealable.

Normally appealable unless barred by law.


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