Minority Ministry Cites Quran To Justify Haj Ban On Disabled; Says Also Have To Prevent Some From “Begging” In S Arabia [Read Affidavit]

Minority Ministry Cites Quran To Justify Haj Ban On Disabled; Says Also Have To Prevent Some From “Begging” In S Arabia [Read Affidavit]

“That retaining this provision also needs to be understood in the light of CGI Jeddah advice in 2012 for strict screening of disabled persons in view of instances of many such people indulging in begging which is strictly prohibited in Saudi Arabia”, MMA affidavit in SC

The Centre has cited the Quran before the Delhi High Court to justify its policy barring differently-abled persons from undertaking Haj pilgrimage.

Ravi Chandra, Under Secretary with the Ministry of Minority Affairs (MMA) who filed the affidavit has also quoted a Consulate General of India (CGI), Jeddah’s advice of 2012 to say that “for strict screening of disabled persons in view of instances of many such people indulging in begging which is strictly prohibited in Saudi Arabia”.

The affidavit was filed in response to a PIL by an advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal against the bar on differently-abled people from performing Haj pilgrimage.

“It is because of the difficulties involved in Haj pilgrimage that as per Quranic injunction Haj is not cast upon as a duty for everyone but only on those who have the Istatah (physical and financial capacity). As per prevailing practice for more than 30 years, persons suffering from disabilities or suffering from specified diseases have been debarred from applying for Haj pilgrimage through high commission”, said the affidavit.

“That the Haj is obligated on Muslims having physical and financial ability to perform Haj. Haj pilgrimage is physically demanding and involves arduous journey from one place to another on feet and by various modes of transport and to be performed on a foreign land in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is a massive exercise in which more than 2 milion pilgrims move from Mecca to Medina within a span of few hours, movement of pilgrims to Arafat from Mina is done in single night by these 2 million pilgrims. The crowd management at Mina station is a gigantic problem. The management has to be kept in preparedness to handle untoward incidents of emergencies like stampede, fire accidents, hospitalization etc”, it said.

“That retaining this provision also needs to be understood in the light of CGI Jeddah advice in 2012 for strict screening of disabled persons in view of instances of many such people indulging in begging which is strictly prohibited in Saudi Arabia”.

 "It is reiterated that Haj Pilgrimage is physically demanding and involves arduous journey from one place to another on feet and by various other modes of transport and to be performed on a foreign land in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”, said the affidavit

The ministry, however, said that it was sensitive to the issue in view of the Rights of Persons With Disabilities Act of 2016, and has directed the Haj Committee of India to look into the matter and recommend necessary corrections or amendments in the Haj policy of 2018-22.

"In the new policy for HCoI pilgrims for 2018-22 there was no change with regard to eligibility criteria and the exact wordings about persons with disability used in previous policy for Haj 2013-17 was retained," the affidavit said.

Bansal, in his plea, has contended that these provisions "blatantly discriminate" against persons with disabilities and violate the Rights of Persons With Disabilities Act, 2016.

The petition stated that those affected with polio, congestive cardiac, tuberculosis, respiratory ailment, acute coronary insufficiency, coronary thrombosis, mental disorder, infectious leprosy, AIDS or any other communicable disease or disability also cannot take undertake Haj

The types of disabilities added in the 2016 Act include mental illness, autism, spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, chronic neurological conditions, specific learning disabilities, multiple sclerosis, speech and language disability.

Disorders such as thalassemia, hemophilia, sickle cell disease, multiple disabilities including visual and hearing impairment, acid attack and Parkinson's disease have also been included in the legislation.

Read the Affidavit Here