Question: What exactly is an ex parte decree and what are the remedies against such ex parte decree?
Answer: Where the plaintiff appears but the defendant does not appear in the court when the suit is called out for hearing, and if the defendant has been duly served, the court is empowered to hear the suit ex parte, i.e., in the absence of the defendant, and pass a decree against the defendant. Thus, an ex parte decree is a decree passed by the court in the absence of the defendant. See, Order 9 Rule 11 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC).
Following remedies are available to the defendant against whom an ex parte decree has been passed:
(1) Under the provisions of Order 9 Rule 13 of the CPC, where a decree is passed ex parte against a defendant, he may apply to the Court by which the decree was passed for an order to set it aside. In such a situation, if the defendant satisfies the Court that the summons was not duly served, or that he was prevented by any sufficient cause from appearing when the suit was called on for hearing, the Court shall make an order setting aside the decree as against him upon such terms as to costs, payment into Court or otherwise as it thinks fit, and shall appoint a day for proceeding with the suit.
(2) The defendant may file an appeal against such ex parte decree under Section 96(2) of the CPC.
(3) Alternatively, if no such appeal is available against such decree, the defendant may file a revision against such ex parte decree under the provisions of Section 115 of the CPC.
(4) Under Order 47 Rule 1 of the CPC, the defendant may apply for review, subject to the conditions mentioned therein.
(5) If the ex parte decree has been obtained by the plaintiff by fraud, the defendant may also have the option / remedy of filing a regular suit to set aside such ex parte decree. It should be noted that, ordinarily, a suit to set aside an ex parte decree cannot be filed. However, if such decree was obtained by the plaintiff by fraud, a suit may be maintainable to set aside such decree.