The Delhi High Court adjourned till October 4 hearing a plea seeking ex-gratia amount to the family members of a Delhi Police Constable who lost his life to Covid-19 on May 5, 2020, while serving as a frontline warrior in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The decision came in light of the statement by Santosh Kumar Tripathi, Standing Counsel for the Delhi Government, before the Bench headed by Justice Rekha Palli, seeking time to place on record certain policy documents. Petitioner’s counsel Sundeep Sehgal claimed it to be delaying tactics.
The petitioner relies upon a tweet made from the Office of the Chief Minister of Delhi on May 7, 2020 which read, “Delhi salutes Ct Amit, the brave Delhi Police official who lost his life to corona while serving the people of Delhi. Hon. CM Arvind Kejriwal has announced that Amit’s family will be provided Rs 1 crore ex-gratia.”
Recently, the bench of Justice Pratibha Singh of the Delhi High Court in “Najma vs. Govt. Of NCT of Delhi” noted that the “promise” made by the Chief Minister would be legally enforceable as “promissory estoppel”. “People have a legitimate expectation of a promise by a constitutional functionary to be fulfilled,” said the court.
In this light, Justice Palli stated that the decision by Justice Pratibha Singh will have an effect here, and the tweet by the Chief Minister will act as a ‘promissory estoppel’.
Upon this, Tripathi submitted that the payment of ex-gratia is a policy decision, while the matter with Justice Pratibha Singh decided neither involved any cabinet decision nor any policy decision.
The Bench orally remarked: “CM can’t for abc reasons make tweets.”
Earlier, the Vacation Bench of Justice Amit Bansal sought response from the State Government on the reason for non-payment of the ex-gratia amount to the tune of Rs 1 crore as promised by the CM.
The petition has been filed through Advocates Sundeep Sehgal and Anand Prakash Sharma by Pooja, the wife of Late Amit Kumar, who was a Constable at Delhi Police, posted at PS Bharat Nagar in the North-West district of Delhi and the first Delhi Police personnel to have succumbed to the virus. The petitioner has two small children aged 5 years and 5 months respectively.
The plea states that a tweet made by the Delhi CM wherein the sacrifice made by late Delhi Police Constable has been noticed by the State and the said ex-gratia amount was announced to be given to the family members of the deceased. The petitioner made several representations to the Government and has been running from pillar to post to get the said ex-gratia amount as promised by the CM, but she has not received any response from the State Government as yet.
In light of the above, the plea seeks release of ex-gratia amount as promised by the State.
The plea reads: “What amazes the petitioner is that when a brave police officer who served the people of Delhi and died in the line of duty, praised by the Hon’ble CM himself and even his family is promised the ex-gratia amount of Rs 1 crore in public on 07.05.2020, then why is it taking more than a year to release the amount to his family who is virtually on the road? Why the respondents are so apathetic to the plight of the petitioner?”