New Delhi: The Supreme Court of India on Tuesday asked the Modi government to submit details of pilgrims in tabular form who had applied for Haj through Haj Committee of India consecutively for 5th time.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud sought the Centre's response by February 19.
"Purely as an ad-interim measure, it is directed that Pinky Anand, Additional Solicitor General, shall file a statement with regard to the fifth time applicants, who have crossed the age of 65 years and are below 70 years and have never been able to go for the pilgrimage," the bench said, according to PTI.
The Supreme Court’s directive came in response to a petition filed by the Kerala State Haj Committee.
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.
The Supreme Court has fixed the matter for further hearing on February 19.
Meanwhile, the Haj Committee of India has extended the last date to deposit the first installment of Rs.81,000/- to February 12, 2018. The last date was earlier fixed as January 31.
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