New Delhi: Asserting that the current Qurrah or draw of lots system is discriminatory, Kerala State Haj Committee on Tuesday demanded an all-India system to select the pilgrims.
“Kerala has a higher number of people who want to go for Haj pilgrimage than states like Bihar. Hence there should be an all-India draw of lots to select the pilgrims”, Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the Kerala State Haj Committee, told the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
The demand came while the Apex Court bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud was hearing a petition challenging the center’s decision to revoke exemption given to 5th time applicants filed by the Kerala State Haj Committee.
Responding to the demand the court said, “"First, let the details come then we will see what can be done in the case.”
According to the Haj Committee of India, Kerala has received a total of 69,783 applications in 2018 whereas it has a quota of just 10,981. As against this, Bihar has received a total of 5,147 applications though it has a quota of 12,630.
The Supreme Court had earlier asked the center to submit details of pilgrims in tabular form who had applied for Haj through Haj Committee of India consecutively for 5th time by February 19.
The Kerala Haj Committee had also raised the issue of allotting 25% Haj seats to private tour operators and alleged that they charged exorbitant price of up to Rs four lakh from one pilgrim, according to PTI.
Instead of allowing private operators, the government should be sending all pilgrims for Haj which would begin in August this year, it had said.
Every year more than 2.5 Muslims from all across the world gather in Makkah, Saudi Arabia to perform Haj - the annual ritual which is one of the pillars of Islam. The Saudi authorities have fixed quota for different countries based on the population of Muslims.
Accordingly, India has been allotted a quota of 175,025 pilgrims which is further distributed to various states based on the population of Muslims. However, pilgrims numbering more than three times the allotted quota submit their application. This necessitates Qurrah - draw of lots, to select the final list of Haj pilgrims.
The Haj Committee of India had however exempted from Qurrah the applicants who apply consecutively for 5th time and those who are above 70 years of age.
But, the Modi government in its new Haj policy passed in 2018 while withdrawing the Haj subsidy also revoked the exemption given to 5th timers.
The Kerala State Haj Committee had earlier requested the Central Haj Committee to extend the date of completing the Qurrah till February 02 instead of January 23.
The Central Haj Committee of India however did not agree to this demand. Moreover, the Haj Committee of India conducted on January 23 the Qurrah of Haj pilgrims from Kerala at its headquarters in Mumbai.
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