The Delhi High Court on July 22 ruled that a Chief Minister's promise to citizens is clearly enforceable and directed the AAP government to decide on Arvind Kejriwal's announcement that if a poor tenant was unable to pay rent due to the COVID-19 crisis, the state would pay it.
The high court has told the Delhi government to take the decision within six weeks. The larger interest of the people for whom the benefit was intended must be kept in mind and then a clear policy in this regard must be framed, the court said, according to news agency PTI.
A single-judge bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh was referring to Kejriwal’s press conference on March 29 last year where he had appealed to the landlords to not harass their poor tenants and had promised that the AAP government would compensate in case of failure of payment.
“I appeal to all landlords not force tenants to pay rent for two or three months. Please postpone it for a few months. When the situation becomes normal, if anyone is unable to pay, the government will pay for them,” Kejriwal had said during his virtual address.
The high court noted that once the Chief Minister had given a solemn assurance, a duty was cast on the Delhi government to take a stand as to whether to enforce the promise or not. It was not clear why the government chose to completely disregard the promise made by its CM and not effectuate it, the court said.
A statement given in a consciously held press conference, in the background of the lockdown announced due to the pandemic and the mass exodus of migrant labourers, cannot be simply overlooked, it added.
In its 89-page verdict, the court said proper governance requires the government to take a decision on the assurance given by Kejriwal, and inaction on the same cannot be the answer.
The high court pronounced the judgment on a petition moved by daily wage workers who claim to be tenants and are unable to pay monthly rent and a landlord who has not received the monthly rent from his tenant. They all sought recovery, payment, or refund of the rental amount as promised by Kejriwal last year during the press briefing.
The court said, the promise/ assurance/ representation given by the CM clearly amounts to an enforceable promise, the implementation of which ought to be considered by the government. Good governance requires that promises made to citizens, by those who govern, are not broken without valid and justifiable reasons, it said.
(With text inputs from PTI)
(Edited by : Kanishka Sarkar)