SC asks Centre to reply to plea Haj tour operators

SC asks Centre to reply to plea Haj tour operators

The Supreme Court asked the Union government to respond to a plea by the Federation of Haj Private Tour Operators of India. (Reuters File Photo)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Union government to respond to a plea by the Federation of Haj Private Tour Operators of India, which challenged the validity of a condition imposed on Haj Group Organisers to charge extra for an additional quota of 10,000 seats allocated to them of pilgrims to Mecca and Medina.

A bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant issued a notice to the Centre's Ministry of Minority Affairs but asked a representative of the petitioner's organisation to meet the officials to resolve the matter.

The court passed its order after hearing senior advocate Salman Khursheed and Suleiman M Khan, appearing for the Federation of Haj PTO of India, who sought a direction to withdraw the condition, terming it as “arbitrary and unreasonable”. It put the matter for further consideration on June 24.

The federation claimed the government acted against the interest of Haj pilgrims as well as private tour operators and Haj Group Organisers by subsequently incorporating a condition in the policy-2019-23 on June 3 by directing that them to charge additional quota of 10,000 seats allotted to them at the applicable rates of Haj Committee of India.

It said this was contrary to the spirit and purpose the original policy for Haj-2013-17, extended for Haj-2018 as well, formulated and approved by the apex court by its judgment dated on April 16, 2013, in the case titled as 'Union of India Versus Rafique Shaikh Bhikan'.

The overall quota for India after allocation of additional pilgrims by Saudi Arabia has become two Lakh seats.

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