SC cuts Haj discretionary quota to 300

SC cuts Haj  discretionary quota to 300

The Supreme Court on Monday reduced the government’s discretionary quota for the Haj pilgrimage to 300 from the proposed 5,050.

A bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai earmarked 100 seats for the president’s quota, 75 each for the vice-president and the prime minister and 50 for the minister of external affairs.

In an affidavit prepared by advocates Harris Beeran and Sulaiman M Khan, the government said 2,550 seats have been reserved for recommendation by dignitaries, for sending the needy nominees who were unsuccessful in the “Haj Qurrah” of the year.

The number of seats under the government’s discretionary quota had gone up to 5,050 as it had merged the 2,500 seats reserved for the Bohra community, which had already got 3,000 seats for Haj 2012, directly from the Saudi authorities. The bench said 200 seats will be reserved for the Haj Committee of India (HCOI), as against the proposed 500 seats. The court said the remaining seats will go to HCOI.

Noting that it had no objection to allocation of seats for the Haj under the government rules, the court said the representation was to be done on “reasonable basis.”

Attorney General G E Vahanvati submitted that several High Courts were “entertaining petitions filed by private tour operators with regard to quota allocated to them despite the fact that the apex court was already seized up with the matter.”

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