ISLAMABAD: The top court rejected on Tuesday the government’s Hajj Policy for 2016 and restored the 50 per cent quota for private tour operators.
A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court (SC), headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, resumed the proceedings of the case filed against a 10 per cent cut in the quota of private operators in the latest policy.
On Monday, the bench had directed the religious affairs ministry secretary to find out whether or not the new policy could be approved by the committee constituted after the ministry had proposed reduction in Hajj quota of private sector from 50 to 40 per cent in larger public interest to accommodate the maximum number of pilgrims.
The religious minister had also voiced apprehensions that delays in balloting for Hajj pilgrims may adversely affect Pakistani pilgrims this year. The concerns had appeared in a five-page statement filed by the deputy attorney general on behalf of the Hajj ministry on a plea against the 10 per cent cut in the quota of private operators in the latest policy.
The federal government had deferred the balloting process last week. The ministry contended the increase in the government Hajj quota is based on popular public demand and the tour operators’ petitions should be dismissed.
The top court, however, set aside an earlier decision of the Sindh High Court (SHC) in this regard and ordered to restore the previous quota for private tour operators.
During the previous hearing, Akram Sheikh, the counsel for some private operators, had contended the services for pilgrims were guaranteed as a fundamental right.
He claimed 82 per cent pilgrims in Bangladesh performed Hajj through private operators while 90 per cent pilgrims in Turkey availed private tours. He argued the private Hajj operators were introduced on the insistence of the Saudi government.