Last year during first wave of COVID-19 the CM of Delhi in his press conference urged land lords to postpone asking for rent from poor tenants and if tenant is unable to give rent the Government will provide for rent for them to landlord.
Senior advocate Gaurav jain appeared for a landlord who was unable to take get his due rent from his tenant. He filled the case in court to enforce promise made by Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal in his press conference on 29 March 2020. Advocate furnished transcript of press conference for evidence in this regard.
A single judge bench of Justice Pratibha M singh heard the case and ruled that government of delhi is bound by the promise made by its highest functionary who is chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Advocate on behalf of applicant contended that when a promise or assurance is made by the chief minister of a state and because he is the highest functionary of government the people should be entitled to ask for enforcement of the made promises on basis of doctrine of legitimate expectation. He also said that Right to shelter is a fundamental right and promises made in this regard should be implemented and the government should be bound by such promises. If such promise or assurance is not fulfilled the trust which is reposed in constitutional functionary by the people will completely be broken.
Senior advocate Rahul Mehra appeared for the government of Delhi. He submitted that doctrine of legitimate expectation can only be applied on real government policy or notification by government or a decision made by executives. It cannot apply on a political statement made by politician. He said that unless there is an actual governmental policy is made and then has been formally announced or issued a mere promise cannot be enforceable.
The Delhi High Court after listening to arguments of both the parties opined that the Delhi government is bound by the promises made by its CM. Where CM made assurance to landlords of payment of rent by Delhi government in case of failure to pay of rent by the poor tenants. The Court said that a promise or representation made by the government’s highest functionary is an enforceable promise and the promise should be implemented. The court said promise was not a political promise as it was not made in some election rally or was not made even as part of election rally. The court said CM clearly promised for reimbursement to landlords in the press conference so the government should live up to its promise.
This conclusion was reached by the court by applying both the doctrine of legitimate expectation and also doctrine of promissory estoppel. The court also said the promise made by CM ought to be considered by the government and decision should be taken whether to implement it or not.
The HC ordered government to take steps towards fulfilling the promise which was made and come with a framework of policy to implement it. And if the decision of not implementation is taken then give the reason why they decided not to fulfil the promise. The court gave 6 week time to delhi government to decide on whether to fulfil the promise or not.
This decision by the court was taken by keeping in mind larger interest of the individual to whom the benefit were intended to be given in the promise by CM. This is a land mark judgement with significant implications for the people.