Supreme Court disapproves Haj subsidy to Muslims

   May 8, 4:26 pm

New Delhi, May 8 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down the Government's policy to give subsidy to Muslims for annual Haj pilgrimage and directed that it be progressively eliminated within a period of 10 years.

The apex court also directed the government to reduce to two the number of its representatives in the Prime Minister's goodwill delegation.

It said it will look into the functioning of Haj Committee of India and it process for selecting people for Haj pilgrimage.

The apex court was hearing an appeal filed by the Centre challenging a Bombay High Court judgement which had directed the Ministry of External Affairs to allow certain private operators to handle 800 of the 11,000 pilgrims earmarked under the VIP quota subsidised by the government.

"There are one or two minor suggestions, which have been made by the Supreme Court, according to me. One, the subsidy, which we were otherwise to continue this year, they have said that you have to progressively reduce it and may be in 10 years time you will have to eliminate it completely. We have not seen the full text of the judgment as how this mode has to be operated," said government counsel, Harish Beeran.

" Secondly, on the issue of goodwill delegation, although we have said that last year there were around 30 people, who went as a part of the delegation. We have substantially reduced it to nine plus one this year. The court has said that instead of nine it has to be only two people, who have to go as a part of the goodwill delegation," he added.

He said the prime minister's goodwill delegation was sent to spread harmony in Saudi Arabia and see the arrangements made by them for Indian Haj pilgrims.

"There used to be no rigid rules as far as composition of the goodwill delegation was concerned. But people from all walks of life, leaders from various communities used to represent in the good will delegation. The expenses are borne by the government because they are actually sent by the Government of India to spread goodwill among Saudi authorities and to see the arrangements made by Saudi authorities as far as Indian Haj pilgrims are concerned," Beeran added. (ANI)

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