8 Jun 2023 4:37 AM GMT
The Delhi High Court has ruled that the Haj pilgrimage falls within the ambit of religious practice and is protected under Article 25 of the Constitution of India. “Haj Pilgrimage and the ceremonies involved therein fall within the ambit of a religious practice, which is protected by the Constitution of India. Religious freedoms are one of the most cherished rights guaranteed and...
The Delhi High Court has ruled that the Haj pilgrimage falls within the ambit of religious practice and is protected under Article 25 of the Constitution of India.
“Haj Pilgrimage and the ceremonies involved therein fall within the ambit of a religious practice, which is protected by the Constitution of India. Religious freedoms are one of the most cherished rights guaranteed and enshrined under the Constitution in line with the vision of the founding fathers of the Modern Indian Republic. The religious freedom of the person is guaranteed by the Constitution of India under Article 25,” Justice Chandra Dhari Singh observed.
The court made the observations while hearing a batch of pleas moved by various private Haj Group Organizers challenging the suspension of their registration certificates and quota published in the “Consolidated List of Allocation of Haj quota for Haj-2023” by the Union Government on May 25.
The court stayed the comments made in the consolidated list against the Haj Group Organizers to ensure that the pilgrims are not obstructed from completing their Haj journey.
“Accordingly, to ensure that the pilgrims are not obstructed from completing their journey and undertake Haj, the comments in the consolidated list of allocation of Haj Quota for HAJ-2023 issued on 25th May, 2023 by the respondent which reads as “Registration Certificate & Quota Kept in abeyance till finalization of proceedings in complaint related matter” is stayed,” the court ordered.
The court was of the prima facie opinion that although restrictions and conditions on the issuance of Registration Certificate and Quota allotted to the Haj Group Organizers may be imposed, the same should not be held against the pilgrims who registered themselves with such organizers to undertake the pilgrimage in good faith.
“This Court is of the view that such an action would defeat the purpose of the current Haj Policy and is in derogation of Article 25 of the Constitution of India. Article 25 of the Constitution of India guarantees the freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess, practice and propagate religion to all citizens,” the court observed.
Justice Singh added that an alternative must be put into effect so that the law should not become a hurdle for the “noble-intentioned citizens” seeking to undertake Haj pilgrimage.
“In the present petition, the Court is at this stage is primarily concerned with the pilgrims who intend to travel on Haj Pilgrimage and have paid in advance to the petitioners for the same. Travelling to Haj is not merely a holiday but is a medium of practicing their religion and faith which is a fundamental right. This Court being the protector of the right of the pilgrims shall take the necessary steps in this regard,” the court said.
It added that the Union Government shall ensure that the pilgrims who have been affected by the defaults on the part of the petitioners Haj Group Organizers do not suffer and are able to undertake Haj without any obstruction.
“The respondents may proceed with the investigation in pursuance of the show cause notice issued to the petitioner,” the court added.
Title: AL TAWAF HAJJ AND UMRAH TRAVEL AND TOURISM v. UNION OF INDIA and other connected matters
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Del) 503
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