Good Governance Requires Promises To Be Fulfilled, Not Broken: HC To Delhi Govt

Good governance requires that promises, made to citizens by those who govern, are not broken, without valid and justifiable reasons, the Bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh on Thursday pronounced a judgment on a plea moved by four daily wage workers who claim to be tenants and are unable to pay their monthly rent.
The fifth petitioner in the matter is stated to be a landlord who has not been able to receive the monthly rent from his tenant. Both sets of petitioners sought recovery/payment/refund of the monthly rental amount, as per the promise made by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

Petitioners sought enforcement of the promise made by the Delhi Chief Minister on March 29, 2020, in a press conference, in which he requested all landlords to postpone the demand/collection of rent from those tenants who are poor and poverty-stricken, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They alleged that the Chief Minister had made a clear promise that if any tenant is unable to pay the rent due to poverty, the government would pay his/her rent on their behalf.

According to the petitioners, solemn assurance was given that the government would take care of the tenants.

Justice Prathiba M Singh begun the judgment by saying that, “Promises are meant to be broken is well known in the social context. However, the law has evolved the doctrines of legitimate expectation and promissory estoppel to ensure that promises made by the government, its officials and other authorities are not broken and are, in fact, judicially enforceable, subject to certain conditions.”

The Bench directed that the Government of NCT of Delhi would, having regard to the statement made by the Chief Minister on March 29, 2020, to landlords and tenants, take a decision as to the implementation of the same within a period of six weeks, the said decision would be taken, bearing in mind the larger interest of the persons to whom the benefits were intended to be extended in the said statement, as also any overriding public interest concerns.

The Court also noted that, while holding that the assurance/promise given by the Chief Minister is enforceable, both on the basis of the doctrines of promissory estoppel and legitimate expectation, the relief would have to be moulded keeping in mind the various factors. (ANI)

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