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Delhi HC stay on Haj panel officials; MEA to oversee preparation

Delhi HC has turned down a plea by National Haj Committee to vacate a stay on functioning of its chairperson and vice-chairperson and asked the External Affairs Ministry to temporarily oversee arrangements for annual pilgrimage.



New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has turned
down a plea by National Haj Committee to vacate a stay on
functioning of its chairperson and vice-chairperson and asked
the External Affairs Ministry to temporarily oversee
arrangements for the annual pilgrimage.

A Division Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and
Valmiki J Mehta said the interim order restraining them from
discharging official duties -- which came soon after the
committee elections in March -- will continue till the
disposal of the case.
The Bench, however, as an interim measure yesterday
directed the Joint Secretary in the MEA to look into all works
for this year`s Haj pilgrimage arrangements.

The court rejected the submissions made by Solicitor
General Gopal Subramanium on behalf of the committee that
since the preparations for the pilgrimage starts from August,
arrangements will suffer if the chairperson and vice-
chairperson cannot discharge their duties.

On March 22, the Bench 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 senior advocate also submitted that due to the stay
order, all works of Haj Committee have come to a halt which
would hamper the arrangements for the pilgrimage this year.
The Haj panel is a statutory body with 23 members -- 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 that 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
that 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.

PTI

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