::Judicial Decision and Judgement..Distinction

5.         A judicial decision is not exactly the same as “judgment” and the courts have recognized the distinction between two words. The Law Lexicon dictates that a finding of fact or conclusion of law by the judge trying a case, or his decision of a controverted point, or opinion upon the matters submitted, whether oral or in writing, does not constitute a judgment; and it is not such a definitive sentence or adjudication as is contemplated by that term. The distinction lies in the fact that order is a decision made during the progress of the case, either prior or subsequent to final judgment, settling some point or practice or some point collateral  to the main issue presented by the pleadings and necessary to be disposed of before such issue can be passed upon by the court, or necessary to be determined in carrying into execution of the final judgment.

6.         For exact import of the word “judgment”, we may make a reference to Black’s Law Dictionary which defines it as “the official and authentic decision of a court of justice upon the respective rights and claims of the parties to an action or suit therein litigated and submitted to its determination. It means the final decision of the court resolving the dispute and determining the rights and obligations of the parties. Further, it is the  law’s last word in a judicial controversy, being the final determination by a court of the rights of the parties upon matters submitted to it in an action or  proceeding.

7.         The Code of Civil Procedure also makes a distinction between “judgment” and “orders” made during the course of proceedings before a court, which, as we understand from law Lexicon, is a judicial decision. Under section 2 (9), “judgment” means the statement given by the judge of the grounds of a decree or order. In accordance with section 2 (14), “order” means the formal expression of any decision of a Court which is not a decree. As we have seen, judgment has been defined as the statement given by a judge of the grounds of a decree or an order. It suggests that if a judicial order is supported by grounds it also amounts to judgement. In spite of this circumstances, however, order is not exactly the same as judgment, which is manifest from the fact that these words have been separately dealt with and defined by the Code.

8.         It may, however, be kept in view that word “Order” too has been mentioned in the definition of the word “judgment” in section 2(9) of the Code, which brings about a paradox. But we do have an explanation, in that the word “Order” in the definition of “judgment” signifies final order granting or refusing to grant relief in a civil matter. Therefore, when we come to think of it, this can be resolved with the statement that word “judgment” includes an order based on grounds given by the judge, but the reverse is not true; that is to say that the word “order” does not include a judgment, which is final decision of a court resolving disputes between the parties with determination of their rights and obligations.

9.         This conclusion is supported by rules 1 and 3 of order XX of the Code. Rule 1(1) says that “on completion of evidence, the Court shall fix a date, not exceeding fifteen days, for hearing of arguments of parties”. Sub-rule 2 provides that “the Court shall, after the case has been heard, pronounce judgment in open Court, either at once or on some future day not exceeding thirty days, for which due notice shall be given to the parties or their advocates”. Rule 3 provides that “the Judgment shall be dated and signed by the Judge in open Court at the time of pronouncing it and, when once signed shall not afterwards be altered or added to, save as provided by section 152 or on review”.

10.       It is clear from these provisions that judgement is formal pronouncement of the decision of a court finally determining the rights and obligations of the parties and resolving the dispute between them. It requires the observance of certain formalities laid down in the Procedure Code. After arguments of the parties have been heard, it has to be dated and signed by the Judge in open Court at the time of its pronouncement and once signed it cannot be altered or added to, save as provided by section 152 or on review. The observance of legal formalities has to precede the pronouncement of final judgment to be followed by a decree.

11.       This is not so in the case of “orders” which have been separately dealt with under section 104 (1) which provides that “an appeal shall lie from the following orders, and save as otherwise expressly provided in the body of this Code or by any law for the time being in force and from no other orders”.  An appeal is expressly allowed under rule 1 of Order XLIII of the Code of Civil Procedure which enumerates the orders from which an appeal lies under the provisions of section 104 of the Code. These provisions make a very clear distinction between a judgement and  orders under section 104 read with rule (1) of Order XLIII. They are judicial decisions not amounting to judgments, in that they do not finally determine rights and obligations of the parties to suits or proceedings before the Court.


12.       The orders, either appealable or otherwise made under different provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure are based on factual situations; which are provided by the pleadings of the parties, claims arising out of and grounded on those pleadings and the orders or judicial decisions sought to be made, relevant legal provisions and the arguments of the parties. We might say that findings of the court on issues involved in a suit for determination are also the result of judicial decisions. The courts have to be equipped with necessary skills for qualitative judicial decisions or orders, which are passed to settle various controversies between the parties, necessary to bring the matter to a stage of final judgment. For quality decisions, the judicial officer concerned should be conversant with relevant provisions the law applicable to the matter before him.

13.       The points for determination, the decisions on those points and the reasons in support provide us only with an outline to be converted into a whole with the expression of courts’ mind. The material and the arguments seeking a particular relief, facilitate the making up of mind, which finds expression in a formal judicial decision. This mind making requires marshalling of facts and circumstances of a case, as also sound and practical knowledge of the legal principles applicable to these facts.

14.       Before taking leave of the matter, I may quote with advantage Mr. B.P.Beri, former Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court. He said “the process of reaching a conclusion by a Judge on a question of fact or law calls for the knowledge of human behaviour, the motivation of the parties in the background of social norms to which they belong, awareness of the principles of interpretation and the changing laws. All this equipment is of little effect unless the Judge is equally skilled in presenting his thought-process by the medium of words in coherent, clear and concise manner.