HC stays order directing Delhi govt. to deliver on ‘rent promise’

A view of Delhi High Court. File  

The Delhi High Court on Monday stayed its July 22 order directing the Delhi government to take a decision on whether to implement the promise made by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal last year in which he said his government will pay rent for those who are unable to do so in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh said irreparable loss would be caused to the Delhi government if an order of stay is not passed.

“There is a prima facie case in favour of the appellant [Delhi government]. Balance of convenience is in favour of the appellant and irreparable loss shall be caused. We stay the operation, implementation and execution of the order of the single judge till the next date of hearing,” the Bench said while posting the case for further hearing on November 29.

On July 22, the HC Bench of Justice Prathiba M. Singh had directed Mr. Kejriwal to live up to his promise made in a press conference last year. “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,” Justice Singh had ruled.

Justice Singh had said the CM cannot first make a “clear and unequivocal oral assurance” and then fall silent when it comes to its implementation. The judge had directed the Delhi government to take a decision within six weeks whether to implement the promise made by Mr. Kejriwal on March 29, 2020, bearing in mind the larger interest of the people. If a decision is made to implement the promise, the Delhi government should frame a clear policy, the court had said.

In its appeal against Justice Singh’s order, the Delhi government claimed that, “no indiscriminate and unconditional assurance for payment of rent by the GNCTD during the lockdown was made by Mr. Kejriwal”.

The Delhi government, represented by senior counsel Manish Vashisht, claimed that in the backdrop of the outbreak of the pandemic, a “fervent appeal” was made by Mr. Kejriwal to the public at large not to coerce the tenants into paying rent. However, the same was “found to be a sort of a promise” by Justice Singh.

“Accordingly to me, there was no promise at all. We only said please follow the statement of the Prime Minister. We said to the landlords [that] do not coerce tenants to pay rent..and even if, to some extent, the poor do not find the means to pay, the government will look into it,” Mr. Vashisht said.

On this submission, the High Court queried, “So you have no intention to make the payment? Even 5% payment?” The senior counsel said, “Only if the situation so demanded.”

Advocate Gaurav Jain, representing daily wagers and workers, opposed the Delhi government’s plea saying his clients have no means to pay the rent amount.

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2021 7:54:36 AM |

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