Delhi HC stays single bench's order enforcing Kejriwal's lockdown promise for rent payment

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New Delhi [India], September 27 (ANI): The Division Bench of Delhi High Court on Monday stayed the Single Bench order dated July 22, that had directed the Government to implement the promises made to pay rents of poor tenants by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

The Division Bench of Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh on Monday while issuing notice also stayed operation and implementation of the single judge order till the next date of hearing.

The Government of NCT Delhi in its plea challenged the order passed by the bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh that stated "good governance requires promises made to citizens that are not broken".

The single bench had opinioned, "promise/assurance given by the Chief Minister of a state 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".

The Bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh had pronounced a judgement in petitions moved by four daily wagers who claimed to be tenants who were unable to pay their monthly rent. The fifth Petitioner in the matter is stated to be a landlord who hasn't 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 Kejriwal.

Petitioners had sought enforcement of the promise made by the Chief Minister of Delhi 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. It is alleged by the petitioners that Chief Minister, in the press conference, 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.

The single bench while pronouncing the Judgement begins with the 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 had directed that the GNCTD 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 6 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. (ANI)

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