New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today
directed the Centre to nominate a person except one who has
taken part in the election for National Haj Committee to look
into all works for this year`s Haj pilgrimage arrangements.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice
Manmohan told the Centre`s counsel Atul Nanda that the
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) should not nominate any
person who has participated in the election held in March.
The Bench`s direction came after the Centre`s counsel
submitted that a non-Muslim person was not allowed in Mecca at
the time of Haj and this court`s previous order to nominate
the Joint Secretary, who is a Hindu, to oversee the
preparation had put the government into difficulty.
According to the counsel, there was no Muslim officer of
Joint Secretary rank in MEA available who would take care of
In May, the court had in an interim measure directed
Rajiv K Chandra, Joint Secretary in the MEA, to look into all
work for this year`s Haj pilgrimage arrangements while
rejecting the Ministry`s plea that since the preparations for
the pilgrimage starts from August, the arrangements will
suffer if the chairperson and vice-chairperson cannot
discharge their duties.
On March 22, the Bench had restrained senior Congress
leader Mohsina Kidwai, who had been elected as the committee`s
chairperson, and two other office-bearers from functioning due
to allegations of irregularities.
The Haj panel is a statutory body with 23 members and of
them four are joint secretaries of ministries such as External
Affairs and Civil Aviation who do not have voting powers. Of
the other 19, 10 are government nominees and nine elected
according to the Haj Committee Act.
A petition was filed before the Bench by Al Haram
Khuddamul Hujjaj, an association, through its counsel Tarique
Siddiqui, challenging the Centre`s notification in which names
of some states were dropped, resulting in non-participation of
their representatives in the Haj Committee affairs.
The petitioner`s counsel argued the states from various
zones were eliminated and their representatives not allowed to
participate in the election, which violates the Act.
Seeking a direction for conduct of the election to
various posts in accordance with the law, the counsel said
names of Rajasthan, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Mizoram,
Nagaland, Sikkim, Maghalaya, Union Territory of Chandigarh and
Andaman Nicobar, Daman and Diu had been deleted by the Centre
through a notification.