New Delhi, Feb 28 (PTI) The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a plea challenging a Delhi High Court decision to stay an order directing the Aam Aadmi Party [AAP] government in Delhi to decide and formulate a policy on the implementation of Chief Minister [CM] Arvind Kejriwal’s announcement that if a poor tenant was unable to pay rent during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Delhi government would pay it.
A bench of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Surya Kant, which perused the speech of Kejriwal, said that promissory estoppel will not lie on the basis of a speech, and that there has to be some policy, or a notification has to be issued, in this regard .
In contract law, promissory estoppel refers to the doctrine that a party may recover based on a promise made as it had relied on the said promise.
The bench said that since the order in question is an interlocutory order passed by the Delhi High Court, it would not interfere with it. “Since the Special Leave Petition is directed against an interlocutory order which has been passed by the division bench of the High Court in an appeal against the judgment of the Single Judge, no case for interference under Article 136 of the Constitution has been made out. The Special Leave Petition is dismissed on that ground,” it ordered.
On September 27 last year, the Delhi High Court had stayed an order of single-judge bench directing the AAP government to formulate a policy on the implementation of the Chief Minister’s announcement that if a poor tenant was unable to pay rent during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Delhi government would pay it.
The High Court had issued notice on the Delhi government’s appeal against the order passed by a single judge, who had also held that a Chief Minister’s promise to citizens is enforceable in nature.
The notice was issued to petitioners — daily wagers and workers — on whose petition the single judge had passed the order which has been challenged by the Delhi Government.
It had said that irreparable loss would be caused to the appellant (Delhi government) if an order of stay is not passed.
On July 22 last year, a single-judge bench of the High Court had ruled that a Chief Minister’s promise to citizens was enforceable, and directed the AAP government to decide within six weeks Kejriwal’s announcement that the Delhi government would pay rent on behalf of a poor tenant who is unable to do so on account of COVID-19.
The judge had said that against the backdrop of a commitment made by the Chief Minister, a lack of decision-making or indecision was contrary to law. “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. Proper governance requires the government to decide on the assurance given by the CM, and inaction on the same cannot be the answer,” the single judge had said in the verdict.
The judge had said that in the present case, the assurance was not a political promise as was sought to be canvassed as it was not made as a part of an election rally but it was the statement made by the Delhi Chief Minister. “The statement was not made by a government functionary at a lower level in the hierarchy, who could be devoid of such knowledge. The CM is expected to have had the said knowledge and is expected to exercise his authority to give effect to his promise/assurance,” the judge had said, adding that a citizen would believe that the CM has spoken on behalf of his government while making the promise.