Difference between Decree and Order

Numerous difficult terms can be found throughout the legal profession. There are some terms whose meanings are so close that it's difficult to tell if they're interchangeable. At first glance, one might not be able to comprehend them. These phrases include "decree" and "order." In various ways, the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (hereafter referred to as "the CPC") defines and distinguishes decree and order. The courts in India have made an effort to elaborate on this. Let's examine each phrase in more detail to learn how they differ with each other.

What is Decree?

The word is defined under Section 2(2) of the Civil Procedure Code. A decree is the official expression of an adjudication that, as far as the court is concerned, definitively establishes the parties' rights with regard to all or most of the issues at issue in the lawsuit. It may be preliminary or final.

It will be interpreted to include the denial of a petition and the resolution of any issue under Section 144, but exclude the following −

  • Any decision from which an appeal is appropriate as an appeal from a decision, or

  • Any dismissal order due to default.

When additional steps must be completed before a lawsuit may be completely resolved, a decree is considered preliminary. When such a decision fully disposes of the lawsuit, it is considered to be final. There's a chance it's both preliminary and definitive.

Illustration of Decree

Let's say that in a lawsuit, Aman sues Chitra to recover Rs. 80,000 as per a contract, and Chitra sets off against the damages he suffered as a result of Aman's inability to fulfill the contract's terms. Now, after interpreting the arguments, the court rules in favor of one party (either Aman or Chitra). This decision, which hasn't left anything to be further decided upon or resolved, is a decree.

Types of Decree

There are three types of decree

  • Preliminary Decree − Adjudication establishes the parties' rights with regard to all or some of the matters in question, but it does not end the lawsuit. Although the parties' rights and obligations are spelled out in the preliminary decree, the final outcome is left to be determined in subsequent actions.

  • Final Decree − A "final" decree is one that totally ends the lawsuit. The Apex Court said in the case of Shankar Balwant Lokhande (Dead) v. Chandrakant Shankar Lokhande that while the preliminary decree specifies the rights and obligations of the parties, the actual decree is left to be determined in the subsequent proceedings. The "Final Decree" is the outcome of the investigations made in accordance with the Preliminary Decree, and it expressly specifies the rights of the parties.

  • Partly Preliminary and Final Decree − It occurs when a certain controversy is settled by the decree while the remainder is left up for debate. In the case of Lucky Kochuvareed v. P. Mariappa Gounder, the Apex Court clarified that, despite the fact that a decree is just one, it might contain both preliminary and final elements.

Essentials of Decree

There are five main essentials of decree as given below-

  • Adjudication − An administrative judgment, dismissal of a lawsuit for lack of merit as a result of a party's failure to attend, or dismissal of an appeal for lack of prosecution because there has been no "judicial determination of rights in issue." Courts are required to make such decisions.

  • Suit − When a complaint is presented, a lawsuit officially begins.

  • Rights of Parties − Regarding the issues under dispute, it is necessary to determine the parties' legal rights. Plaintiff and defendant are terms used by the parties.

  • Conclusive Determination − Insofar as the court making the decision is concerned, the decision is final.

  • Expression must be formal − It should be done so in accordance with the form's requirements. The law requires that it be adhered.

What is an Order?

The term "order" refers to a legal statement of the court's decision, made by the judge or a panel of judges that does not include a decree and establishes the legal ties between the plaintiff and defendant in the course of the trial or appeal.

An order is a directive issued by a judge or court to a party to litigation, ordering him or her to perform a specific act, prohibiting him or her from performing certain acts, or directing the public authority to perform certain activities.

Types of Order

There are two types of order −

Additionally, orders can be divided into two classes −

  • Final Orders − An order entirely dismissing all of the lawsuit's parties' claims.

  • Interlocutory Orders − While a matter is in litigation, a provisional order is given to resolve contiguous concerns that are impeding the case's development.

Essentials of an Order

  • The civil court, not the administrative tribunal, is required to make the ruling.

  • Such a proclamation needs to be formal, which means it needs to be written accurately.

  • That formal expression should not be a Decree.

Distinguish between Decree and Order

The given table illustrates the major differences between decree and order −

Section 2(2) of the Civil Procedure Code defines decree.Section 2(14) of the CPC defines order.
The term "decree" refers to the formal expression of an adjudication that, as far as the Court is concerned, definitively establishes the rights of the parties with regard to all or most of the issues at issue in the lawsuit. It may be either preliminary or final."Order" refers to the formal statement of any civil court decision that is not a decree.
Only lawsuits that were started with the filing of a complaint are eligible for a ruling.A proceeding started by a petition or application may give rise to an order, as may a suit from the filing of a plaint.
It could be either preliminary or final, or both preliminary and final.A preliminary order cannot constitute an order.
There are certain exceptions to the rule that there can be only one decree in a lawsuit when two decrees, one preliminary and the other final, are passed.There may be a number of orders made in a lawsuit or proceeding.


The words "order" and "decree" are frequently used interchangeably. The fact that both phrases are formally expressed causes confusion regarding their differences. However, as this essay explains, everyone is unique in a number of ways. An order differs from a decree primarily on the basis of its finality. The dispute over the parties' substantive rights is often resolved by a decision that only becomes final after the conclusion of any lawsuit. In contrast, an order, which outlines the parties' procedural rights, may be made at any point throughout a lawsuit.


Q1. Are decrees legally binding?

Ans. A consent decree is a contract that is enforceable by law, and the court oversees its execution.

Q2. What is the difference between a decree absolute and a final order?

Ans. The initial directive made by the court during a divorce is known as a Decree Nisi. It demonstrates that there is no justification for not getting a divorce. The court's ultimate decree in a divorce case is known as a Decree Absolute. Your marriage is formally dissolved, giving you the option to wed again.

Q3. How many years a decree is valid?

Ans. A decree or order may not be executed until a maximum of 12 years have passed since the day it became enforceable, which is often the date of the decree or order.

Q4. Which court order is not decree?

Ans. According to section 2(14) of the Civil Procedure Code, an order is the formal statement of any civil court decision that is not a decree. There are two types of orders: those that can be appealed and those that cannot.

Updated on: 15-Feb-2023

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