Promise Made by Chief Minister in a Press Conference is Legally Enforceable: Delhi HC
In a landmark decision, the Delhi High Court declared that a CM's assurance or promise made during a press conference constitutes an enforceable commitment, and the CM is expected to follow through on it. Hon'ble Justice Pratibha M Singh went on to say that the CM is expected to know about the promise and to use his power to carry it out. Ordinary people may believe that the CM was speaking on behalf of his government when he made the promise. These statements were stated in a petition filed by workers/labourers who were unable to pay their rent and wanted the CM to honour a promise he made on March 29, 2020. The CM had asked landlords not to push anyone who couldn't afford to pay rent to do so, and that if they couldn't, the Delhi government would pay the rent. As a result, the petitioners claimed that the Delhi government failed to follow through on its CM's pledge and did not react to the petitioners' letters.
The Bench based its decision on previous decisions, concluding that the doctrines of legitimate expectation and promissory estoppel are rooted in the concept of trust between government and citizens, and that good governance necessitates the maintenance of that trust.
Significant observations made by the Hon’ble High Court: -
1.People in positions of power in a democratic system are required to make responsible promises/assurances, especially in times of suffering and crisis.
2.There would be a legitimate expectation on behalf of citizens, and if a person like CM makes such a guarantee, it is impossible to say that no landlord or tenant would believe CM.
3.It's arbitrary in this circumstance, against the backdrop of a commitment made, and it's not positive decision-making. Still, according to the Delhi High Court, failure to make a decision or uncertainty is illegal.
4.It was also pointed out that a comment made by a CM during a news conference during a lockdown cannot be overlooked. In such a situation, inaction is not an option.
Court’s Directions: -
1.The GNCTD will decide on implementing the guarantee within six weeks, according to the CM's announcement on March 29th.
2.Any choice would be made with the greater public's interest in mind, and it would not have an overriding effect on public interest.
3.As we know that the policies will be developed by the GNCTD in this area once the decision is made.
4.The petitioners case only will be considered when the policy scheme is announced and if in any case the policy scheme will not be announced then the petitioners case will not be considered.