Submit Statement On 5th Time Applicants For Haj: SC Directs Centre [Read Order]

Submit Statement On 5th Time Applicants For Haj: SC Directs Centre [Read Order]

The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, directed the Centre to file a statement on the applicants aged between 65 and 70 years, who have applied for four times earlier but have not been able to go for the Haj pilgrimage.

The Bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud directed, "Purely as an ad-interim measure, it is directed that Ms. Pinky Anand, learned 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 pilgrimage."

The Court is hearing a Petition filed by the Kerala State Haj Committee challenging certain provisions of the Haj guidelines 2018-2022. The Petition, drawn by Advocate Haris Beeran and filed through Advocate Pallavi Pratap, assails the provisions as being contrary to the judgment passed by the Supreme Court in the case of Union of India and Others v. Rafique Shaikh Bhikan and Another, (2012) 6 SCC 265.

Earlier this month, the Court had made it clear that the allotment of seats made by way of the state-by-state draw of lots in pursuance of the new Guidelines for the pilgrimage in August shall be subject to the final order of the Apex Court on the validity of the Guidelines.

During the hearing on Tuesday, Advocate G. Prakash, appearing for the State of Kerala, submitted that the State supports the Petitioner's plea to make Calicut Airport the embarkation point for Kerala.

Mr. Beeran then contended that the draw of lots should be done on an all India basis to give equal chance to all applicants, submitting that applicants from States like Bihar and UP have a better chance to get a seat as compared to someone from Kerala.

To this, Ms. Pinky Anand, appearing for the Centre and the Haj Committee of India (HCOI) submitted that since Saudi Arabia allots seats to India on the basis of population, HCOI also adopts the same approach and grants seats to States on the basis of their Muslim population. Ms. Anand further submitted that extra seats are also distributed among the States.

Mr. Beeran also raised the issue of abolition of quota for applications who are applying for the fifth consecutive time, asserting that this is violative of the Supreme Court's judgment in Rafique Shaikh's case. While Ms. Anand challenged this argument submitting that the number of seats for this quota has risen to 80,000, the claim was rebutted by Ms. Anand and Mr. Prashant Bhushan, who asserted that the figure wasn't correct. The Court then asked Ms. Anand to submit the correct figures.

The matter has now been listed on 19 February.

Read the Order Here