In a civil suit, the judgment is the concluding part that determines the rights and liabilities of both parties. Every judgment then is followed by a decree which is known as the ‘operative part’ of such judgment. In U.K., there is a difference between the judgment and decree which now has lost relevance, but in India, the distinction is still intact, and the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (hereinafter referred to as ‘CPC’) recognizes such a difference and governs both the judgment and decree under its ambit.
So, now let’s move forward with the question as to “what do we mean by decree?”
What do we mean by decree?
A decree is a term that is used frequently in Civil Matters. The term ‘decree’ has been stated under Section 2 (2) of CPC, 1908 and is stated as a proclamation specifying the legal consequences of a particular act which has been brought in after hearing both the sides of the case and is also regarded as confirmation of court’s order to be carried out. As stated above, a decree is an ‘operative part’ of the judgment but what does ‘operative part’ mean here?
The term ‘operative part’ means that the decree is the pronouncement of a judge’s conclusion which he or she has drawn from the issues brought before and thus after hearing both the sides, the judge provides for clear and precise directions which has to be obeyed in conformity with the prayers of the plaint.
Essentials of a Decree:
To recognize any decision of the court as a decree, the following essentials should be available:
1. Presence of adjudication: To recognize a decision of the court as a decree, there must be a presence of adjudication, in simpler terms, it must be determined with judicial reasoning. In the landmark case of Madan Naik v. Hansubala Devi, it was held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court that if the matter isn’t judicially determinable then that decision of the court is not a decree.
2. Adjudication should be done in a Suit or Case: For a decision of the court to be regarded as a decree, the adjudication should take place in a suit or case. Here the term ‘Suit’ means any civil procedure which can be initiated with the submission of a plaint. Thus, a decree can only be given in a civil suit, so if there is not any civil suit, there is no decree.
3. It must contain the rights and liabilities of the parties: For a decision of the court to be recognized as a decree, it must contain the rights and liabilities of the parties and if a controversy arises then they should be determined with a formal adjudication and the parties should be only the plaintiffs and defendants.
4. Should be conclusive in nature: The decision passed by the court to be regarded as a decree should be conclusive in nature since the essence and substance of a decree lies in its conclusive nature and this decision was given by the Calcutta High Court in the case of Narayan Chandra v. Pratirodh Sahini.
5. Formal Expression: The decision given by the court to be recognized as a decree should be written in a formal manner that is prescribed by law. It should be written separately and should follow the judgment.
Kinds of Decree:
The CPC, 1908 prescribes for three types of decrees:
A. Preliminary Decree
B. Final Decree
C. Partly preliminary and partly Final Decree
D. Deemed Decree
A. Preliminary Decree: A preliminary decree is a kind of decree where the rights of the parties are determined in the adjudication the suit is not completely disposed. This type of decree is passed in cases where the adjudication of the rights of parties has been completed but the case is on hold until the final decree is passed. Thus, the preliminary decree is regarded as the prior stage for adjudication of the rights of the parties.
In the case of Mool Chand and Ors v. Dy. Director Consolidation and Ors. , the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that the preliminary decree is only a stage for the courts to determine the rights of the parties until a final decree is passed in that particular suit.
A preliminary decree can be passed by the court in the following suits as per CPC, 1908:
1. Suit for possession and Mense Profits: Order 20, Rule 12
2. Administration Suits: Order 20, Rule 13
3. Suits for pre-emption: Order 20, Rule 14
4. Suit for dissolution of partnership: Order 20, Rule 15
5. Suits concerning accounts of principal and agent: Order 20, Rule 16
5. Suits for partition and separate possession: Order 20, Rule 18
6. Suits concerning foreclosure of mortgage: Order 34, Rule 2
7. Suits concerning mortgaged properties: Order 34, Rule 4
8. Suits related to redemption of mortgage: Order 34, Rule 7
B. Final Decree: A final decree is a kind of decree where the decree completely disposes of the suit and settles all the matters between the parties and doesn’t leave any matter which needs to be decided further.
The final decree is given in the following ways:
a. The decree is pronounced by the highest court in the country i.e. Supreme Court.
b. No appeal has been filed against the pronounced decree in the prescribed period.
c. The decree pronounced by the court completely disposes of the suit.
C. Partly preliminary and partly final Decree: One of the decrees prescribed under CPC, 1908 can be partly preliminary and partly final in nature. This happens in cases where the court decides two questions in the same decree. For example, if the court passes a decree in favor of one party but also passes directions to the other party then this can be considered as partly preliminary and partly final decree.
D. Deemed Decree: An adjudication which is not formally considered as decrees under the ambit of Section 2 (2) of CPC, 1908 but due to legal friction, they are regarded as decrees and thus are known as deemed decrees. Examples like rejection of plaint, adjudication under Rule 21, etc. are regarded as deemed decrees.
Why is Decree an essential requisite?
As per CPC 1908, it is an essential requirement that courts pass off a decree in all suits. A decree is considered as a subset of judgment and it follows the judgment and thus passing a decree is considered essential. Appeals that are filed in the higher courts are made against the decree and not the judgment and hence if the decree is absent then such appeals cannot be set in motion.
Contents of a Decree:
The decree contains the following:
A. A suit number which is given to every suit.
B. The names, addresses, and descriptions of the parties to the suit.
C. The claims and defenses of the parties as an outcome of the suit.
D. The remedy which has been granted to the aggrieved party is also contained in the decree.
E. The total cost incurred in the suit to be mentioned in the decree.
F. The date on which the judgment was pronounced should also be a part of a decree
G. The signature of the judge on the decree is the most essential requisite.
Drawing up of a Decree:
According to Rule 6A Order 20 of the CPC 1908, a decree should be made within a period of 15 days from the date of the pronouncement of judgment. In cases where the decree is not drawn within 15 days from the date of the pronouncement of the judgment then an appeal can be favored without filing a copy of the decree.
In which special circumstances or cases can a decree be given?
There are some special circumstances or cases where a decree can be awarded and there are 3 such types which are as follows:
1. Decree in case of repossession of immovable property
2. Decree in case of movable property
3. Decree in case of payment of money
4. Decree in case of dissolution of partnership
5. Decree in case of partition of property
6. Decree in case of accounts between principal and agent
1. Decree in case of repossession of Immovable property: In cases concerned with repossession of immovable property, the court can pass the following decree:
a. Decree for repossession of the property
b. Decree for mense profits
c. Final decree in case of mense profits in respect to the results generated in the inquiry.
2. Decree in case of movable property: The decree passed by the court, in this case, should be the exact amount which would be paid in case the delivery is not made due to any reason.
3. Decree in case of payment of money: The decree passed by the court, in this case, would be to pay the amount in case there is a postponement or the amount is being paid in installments.
4. Decree in case of dissolution of partnership: The court in this particular scenario can firstly pass a preliminary decree specifying the exact number of shares, the date of dissolution, and other necessary directions and then can lastly pass a final decree.
5. Decree in case of partition of property: The court in this case can pass a:
a. A decree which recognizes the rights of several parties in that suit property.
b. A preliminary decree which declares all the rights of the parties in the suit property and also giving necessary directions and later a final decree if the partition is not being done conveniently.
6. Decree in case of accounts between principal and agent: A preliminary decree can be passed by the court directing the accounts to be taken along with special directions in respect to the mode of taking such accounts and later on a final decree can be passed.
The bottom line is that a decree is an important component of a judgment. Without decree, a judgment is a meaningless document since the decree being the ‘operative part’ of it recognizes the rights of the parties to the suit. Thus, while a judgment is a set of which decree is the subset and is regarded as a formal expression specifying the bone of contentions existing between the parties.
 Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, No.05, Acts of Parliament, 1908 (India).
 LAWNN.COM, Decree under CPC: Meaning, Types, Amendment & Differences, lawnn (Dec. 14, 2020, 11:34 AM), https://www.lawnn.com/decree-under-cpc/.
 Madan Naik v. Hansubala Devi, A.I.R. 1983 S.C. 676 (India).
 Pankhuri Anand, A Brief Capsule of a Decree under CPC, ipleaders (Dec. 14, 2020, 11:56 AM), https://blog.ipleaders.in/introducing-decree/.
 Narayan Chandra v. Pratirodh Sahini, A.I.R. 1991 Cal 53 (India).
 Anand, supra note 3.
 Mool Chand and Ors v. Dy. Director Consolidation and Ors. , A.I.R. 1995 S.C. 2493 (India).
 Sneha Mahawar, Judgement and Decree under Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, ipleaders (Dec. 14, 2020, 20:53 PM), https://blog.ipleaders.in/judgement-and-decree-under-cpc/.
 Mahawar, supra note 8.
Authored By: Abhay Saxena, 4th Semester, New Law College, Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed to be University, Pune.