If any assurance or promise is to be made by the State Government, it shall be in writing through the Secretary of the concerned Department for the reason that the State is an institution: Manipur High Court

The doctrine of promissory estoppels mandates that the Government cannot escape its liability when a citizen has altered his position relying upon the representation or assurance made by public officials. as upheld by the High Court of Manipur through the learned bench led by Justice Kh. Nobin Singh in the case of H. Nilamani Ngangkha Lampak Sports Complex Development Committee, v. The State of Manipur (WP(C) No. 623 of 2020).

The brief facts of the case are that when the members of the committee and the well-wishers of the Sports Complex raised objection to the construction of the three helipads, the Hon’ble MLA of Moirang Assembly Constituency, Shri P. Sharatchandra who is the Government Chief whip and Advisor to Chief Minister, Manipur (Economics Affairs & Human Resource Development) appealed to them for allowing the State Government to construct the helipads at the Sports Complex, for which he assured that the Sports Complex would be repaired/ developed on priority basis. It has further been alleged that the then Hon’ble Minister, Shri Th. Shyamkumar, Forest and MAHUD, the Hon’ble MLA, Shri S. Shusindro assured the committee members and well-wisher of the Sports Complex that the State Government would improve/ develop the said Sports Complex by filling earth i.e. 3 ft. high above the helipad’s level with construction of drain in and around the Sports Complex and pucca fencing on its eastern and northern side and thereafter, three helipads were constructed at the Sports Complex. But they failed to honour their assurances and promises. By the instant writ petition, the petitioner committee has prayed for issuing a writ of mandamus or any other appropriate writ to direct the respondents to develop/ improve H. Nilamani Ngangkha Lampak Sports Complex Ground by filing earth i.e., 3 ft. above the helipads level with construction of drain in and around the Sports Complex and pucca fencing on its eastern and northern side as assured by the State Government.

After the perusal of the facts and arguments, the Hon’ble Court held, “Even though no writ lies in the matter, the fact remains that it is the State Government which had constructed the said three helipads at the Sports Complex causing damages thereon. In other words, since it is the duty and responsibility of the Governments including the State Government to provide requisite infrastructure for the development of sports in the country, even assuming that no promise was made by the State Government as alleged, it is its moral responsibility to repair the damage caused by the construction of the three helipads in the interest of public leaving aside the legal technicalities. In view of the above and for the reasons stated hereinabove, the instant writ petition stands disposed of with the direction that the State respondent may sympathetically consider the claim of the petitioner committee, irrespective of whether the promise was made by the State Government or not, so that the Sports Complex can be brought back towards its original position, in the sense that the Sports Complex can be used by the people of that area for the sports purpose.”

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Judgment reviewed by Vandana Ragwani

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