LHC seeks govt reply on plea against Hajj policy

LAHORE: Justice Muhammad Khalid Mehmood Khan of the Lahore High Court on Friday directed the government and Ministry of Religious Affairs to submit detailed reply on a petition challenging the Hajj Policy 2014 and unfair allocation of quota among private tour operators.

The judge expressing his concern that the government did not make a single policy protecting public welfare, extended stay till May 29 against the allocation of additional 15,000 government quota among the private operators.

Judge made a query to government counsel as to why the government wanted to suck blood of the people. He further observed that the court would not allow any anti people policy.

Petitioners counsel Muhammad Azhar Siddique informed that neither the government had not constituted a committee for Hajj Policy 2014 as directed by Supreme Court nor uploaded the details of the policy on the website of ministry of religious affairs. He also said that the government allotted Hajj quota of 15000 pilgrims among private tour operators, where the government’s Hajj cost Rs 270,000 while private operators charged at least Rs 600,000.

A deputy attorney general informed that 143,386 Hajj Quota was allotted to the government by distributing 50 percent Hajj quota (71,684) to private Hajj and same to the government Hajj Scheme. He said for this year 15000 Hajj quota of government scheme was reduced to 56,684 and private Hajj quota increased to 86,684.  The 11 private tours operator companies moved the petition.  Petitioners counsel Muhammad Azhar Siddique submitted that Hajj policy passed by ministry of religious affairs in violation of the orders of Supreme Court more than 50 per cent Hajj quota has been allotted to previous tour operators without verification of the credential and the quota is being allotted to ineligible and black listed companies.

He said that the criteria laid down for the purpose of allocation of Hajj Quota to the existing Hajj group operations (HGO) without fulfilling the conditions. He said that the deletion of the subject conditions in Hajj Policy-2014 including but not limited to exclusion of tax defaulters, bank defaulters and management dispute, etc.

Counsel said that in the interest of justice, equity and fair play the Hajj Policy-2014 is a clear-cut contempt/deviation of judgment passed by the Supreme Court and in view of Article 187 read with Article 201 of the Constitution. He said that the government hajj scheme if previously economical whereas the private companies are looting the people.

He said that the Hajj quota should be allotted according to the recommendations made by the Competition Commission of Pakistan in its report of February 26, 2013, keeping in view the economy of financial packages offered, quality of management and services provided and the financial strength of the HGOs should be considered. 

He requested to declare Hajj Policy-2014 is illegal, hitting the principles of administrative law, based on favouritism and nepotism and in violation of fundamental rights as envisaged in Articles 9, 14, 18, and 25 of the Constitution.

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