In an historical judgment, the Delhi High Court, recently ruled that a clear promise or assurance made by a chief Minister or a Governmental authority leads to a reasonable expectation from citizens that it will be fulfilled. Such a promise is clearly enforceable by Courts it added. The Delhi High Court gave the AAP Government six weeks to frame a policy on CM Arvind Kejriwal’s March 2020 announcement that if a poor tenant was unable to pay rent during the pandemic, the state would fund it.
Once the CM has given solemn pledge, a duty was caused on the Delhi Government to take a stand on enforcing the promise, thehe Court ruled. Justice Prathiba M Singh, in her order, stated that “proper governance requires the Government to take a decision on the assurance given by the CM and inaction on the same cannot be the answer”.
The Delhi High Court further ruled that “sometimes the Administrator makes promises or announces schemes or policy decisions to be followed by him in the future. In this back ground this court is of the opinion that the promises/assurances/representation given by the CM clearly amounts to enforceable promise, the implementation of which ought to be considered by the Government. Good governance requires that the promises made to the citizens, by those who govern are not broken without valid and justifiable reasons”.
From the above ruling it is now established that the authorities in the Government cannot just like that escape after giving promises and assurances. Now here in this article let us analyise how many such assurances were given to the Defence Civilian employees with regard to the Corporatisation of Ordnance Factories and strengthening of the Factories. These assurances are written assurances.
a) On 18/07/2001, the then Defence Minister, in a meeting with the recognized Federations had “reiterated the Government’s commitment to full utilization of the installed capacities of the Ordnance Factories and their growth. He asserted that the first choice for productionising any equipments was always Ordnance Factories”. “RM also mentioned there was no proposal for Corporatisation of Ordnance Factories”.
b) On 22/04/2002, the then Defence Minister, in a meeting with the recognized Federations had “asserted that the Ordnance Factories will have the first opportunity for productionising the equipment”.
c) On 18/09/2006, the then Defence Minister, in a meeting with the recognized Federations, had “observed that the Federations have expressed certain concerns and apprehensions regarding two recommendations contained in Kelkar Committee Report. One of the recommendation is that Ordnance Factories should be corporatized. Hon’ble RM stated that the Government has not decided to corporatize the Ordnance Factories and that there is no intention to implement this recommendation. Thus there is no cause of action for the Federations to begin an agitation on this issue”.
d) On 18/06/2007, the then Defence Minister, in a DO letter addressed to C.Srikumar, General Secretary of AIDEF had assured that “As already assured, the Government does not at present, intend to corporatize the Ordnance Factories. We do not intend to breach the agreement between the Ministry of Defence and its employees by indirectly converting the Ordnance Factory in to a Corporation Module, as apprehended”.
e)On 26/06/2007, the then Defence Minister, in a meeting with the recognized Federations had stated that “RM further observed that as the Federations were opposed to Corporatisation of Ordnance Factories, his predecessor had categorically assured them that there was no intention to implement the recommendation of the Kelkar Committee relating to corporatization of Ordnance Factories. He said that the present policy is the same”.
f) In response to a representation addressed to the Defence Minister by General Secretary/AIDEF the Ministry of Defence in its letter dated 15/04/2015 had categorically stated “at present there is no proposal to corporatize the Ordnance Factories”.
By applying the ratio given in the above judgement of the Delhi High Court, it is the duty of the Government of India to implement all the above assurances. If an assurance given by a Chief Minister in a press conference is enforceable, then all the above written assurances given by the Defence Ministers are also enforceable.
Views expressed here are those of C. Srikumar, General Secretary of All India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF)