Meaning of Decree
The general meaning of the decree under CPC is an announcement of the legal consequences of a particular act, which is brought after hearing the merits of both sides of the civil case. And, then it is an affirmation that the court’s order has been carried out.
An appeal can be made against the decree passed but not against the judgement.
Definition of Decree
The term decree has been defined under Section 2(2) of Civil Procedure Code, 1908, the decree is defined as “the decree is a formal expression of an adjudication which conclusively determines the rights of both the parties, concerning all or any of the matters in the controversy in the suit and it may be either preliminary or final.
Moreover, a decree is a formal expression of an adjudication through which the court may determine the rights of both parties to the particular suit.
A set-off or a counter-claim can be obtained on the decree passed.
A decree shall be deemed to include
- Rejection of a plaint (Sec.144 of CPC)
- Determination of any question under Section 144 of the Act.
These are not included under the decree
- Any adjudication from which an appeal lies.
- Any order of dismissal for default.
In a suit between Mr A and Mr B, A claims that the particular house named ‘P’ belongs to him while B claims that the said house belongs to him. After hearing all the arguments of both sides before the court of law, the competent court will decide and rule the judgment in the favor of either Mr A or Mr B.
The final decision of the above-said court regarding that particular house i.e. whether the house belongs to A or B is a decree.
Essential Elements of Decree
The decree is a decision of the court. For any decision of the court to be a decree, the following essential conditions were required:
- There must be an adjudication.
- The adjudication should be done in a suit.
- It must determine the rights of parties regarding the matter in dispute.
- The determination of the right should be of conclusive nature.
- There must be a formal expression of such adjudication.
It means the judicial determination of the particular matter in a suit. Hence, if the decision of the competent court is of the nature of the administrative procedure, then it cannot be considered as a decree.
The adjudication must be about any or all of the matters in the particular suit. The court should resolve the matter in its own way, and by applying the events and happenings of the case therein.
The Supreme Court in the case of Madan Naik V/S Hansubala Devi held that if the matter is not judicially determined then, the decision passed is could not be a decree.
Also, in the case of Deep Chand V/S Land Acquisition Officer, the Supreme Court of India held that the adjudication should be made by the officer of the Competent Court, in the absence of that officer, it is ought not to be acknowledged as a decree.
Adjudication must be present in the suit. The adjudication of the suit is initiated by filing a plaint in a Civil Court. If there is no proper civil suit, there can be no decree passed.
However, numerous provisions allow certain applications to be considered as suits. For Example, court proceedings under the Land Acquisition Act, the Hindu Marriage Act, and the Indian Succession Act, etc, are the statutory suits and the decision that has been passed thereunder are considered as a decree.
In the case of Hansraj Gupta V/S Official Liquidators of The Dehra Dun-Missoorie Electric Tramway Co. Ltd., this case was decided by the Crown Court. Their Lordship of the Privy Council pronounced that the word ‘suit’ in ordinary means, “a civil proceeding instituted by the presentation of a plaint.”
3. Rights of the Parties
In terms of rights of the parties, ‘Right’ means substantive rights and not merely procedural rights. Similarly, the parties to the rights in controversy should be the plaintiffs and defendants and, if an order is passed upon the application made by a third party who is a stranger to suit then it is not a decree. It must have determined the rights of the parties concerning all or any of the matters in controversy in the suit.
An order rejecting the application of a poor plaintiff to waive the 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. Dismissing a suit for default in the appearance of the plaintiff is not a decree. However, dismissing a suit on the merits of the case would be a decree.
The disputed matter should be the subject matter of the suit, regarding which the relief is sought. Any question regarding the status and characters of the party suing, the jurisdiction of the court, maintainability of suit or any other preliminary matter is covered under this subject.
4. Conclusive Determination
The decision must be complete and final as regards the court which passed it. 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 a 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. An interlocutory order which does not finally determine the rights of parties is not considered as a decree.
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 of the suit completely.
5. Formal Expression
There must be a formal expression of adjudication. In simple terms 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. The decree follows the judgement and must be drawn up separately.
If a decree has not been drawn up, then there is absolutely no scope of an appeal from the judgment i.e. No appeal lies against the judgement, if the decree is not formally drawn upon the judgement.
The Calcutta High Court in Narayan Chandra V/S Pratirodh Sahni held that the determination should be final and conclusive regarding the court which passes it.
Decisions considered as a decree
- Order of abetment of suit
- Dismissal of appeal as time-barred;
- Dismissal of suit or appeal due to the requirement of evidence or proof;
- Rejection of plant due to non-payment of court fees;
- Order granting costs and instalments;
- An order refusing costs or instalments;
- An order refusing maintainability of appeal;
- Order denying the survival of right to sue;
- Order stating that there is no cause of action;
- An order refusing to grant one or several reliefs;
Decisions are not considered as a decree
- Dismissal of appeal for default;
- Appointment of Commissioner to take accounts;
- Order for remand;
- Dismissal of a Suit under Order 23, Rule 1
- Order granting interim relief;
- An order refusing the grant of interim relief;
- Rejection of plaint to present it to the proper court;
- Application rejected for condonation of delay;
- Order holding an application to be maintainable;
- Order of refusal to set aside the sale;
- The order issuing directions for the assessment of mesne profit.
Amendment of Decree
Under section 125 of the Civil Procedure Code, provided that any clerical errors or typographic errors in the decree passed can be corrected by the court itself or an application of the plaintiff the court will see the errors and correct them.
Further, section 153 of the code speaks about, the Court having the power to amend the decree or to amend any defect proceeding in the suit.
The general power vested to the court to amend the typographical error in the decree is only relating to accidental omission or clerical errors and not other errors which are relating to gross negligence or mistake.
But, before amending the decree, the court must be satisfied and there must be valid proof that the amended portion of the decree was just clerical or typographical errors and not other than that.
And, the court must be satisfied that amended errors should not change or alter any functioning of the decree passed to the suit or nothing that was done under malice.
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