The Delhi High Court on Monday asked the Centre to examine a Public Interest Litigation seeking that an independent organisation be set up to manage the affairs of Haj pilgrims, PTI reported. The court said that it was an important matter that needed the government’s “considerable view”.
At present, the Haj Committee, set up under the Haj Committee Act, 2002, manages the pilgrimage from India and policies related to it. “The respondents [the Centre and ministries concerned] need to examine and take a view thereafter expeditiously,” the bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said. “The decision should be communicated to the petitioner.”
Delhi-based lawyer Shahid Ali had filed the petition, which also referred to a recent notification of the Centre scrapping a subsidy for cheaper flights for the pilgrimage. A Haj policy review committee constituted in January 2017 had suggested, among other things, that a Haj Corporation of India be established with the objective of creating a “self-sustainable model that would be free of any government funding…[and] improve efficiency in Haj operations”.
Since the government had withdrawn the subsidy, Ali argued that there was no need for a government-controlled panel to manage its affairs and the Haj Committee Act was also liable to be quashed. He pointed out that the Sikh community is allowed to manage its affairs under the Sikh Gurudwara Act, 1925.