Mumbai: Observing that it was not going to
disturb the policy framed by Ministry of External Affairs for
Haj pilgrimage, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday dismissed
petitions filed by those private tour operators who were held
"We are not disturbing the policy of this year and the
list sent to Saudi Arabia government of those tour operators
who were held eligible," a division bench of Justices DD
Sinha and VK Tahilramani said.
The court was giving its judgement in a bunch of
petitions filed by over 40 private tour operators challenging
the MEA decision to disallow those operators who do not have
minimum 250 square feet office area.
The court has, however, directed MEA to allot the
remaining 800 quota to the petitioners and those operators who
were held ineligible.
"Since the 800 seats might elapse or go waste they should
be allotted to these operators. The MEA should not force the
250 square feet office area criteria for allotment of these
800 seats," Justice Sinha said.
The ministry has been directed to allot the quota within
MEA counsel sought a stay on this part of the order
arguing that the 800 quota is allotted to dignitaries and VIPs
and hence does not go to waste.
Justice Sinha, however, refused to stay it and said
according to the written submissions of MEA submitted to the
court there are 800 seats remaining from the VVIP and VIP
The MEA has been asked to allot the remaining 800 seats
first to those operators who fulfil all the criteria including
the 250 square feet area and then to those who fulfil the
other criteria but do not have 250 square feet office area.
Counsel for the petitioner Cherag Balsara told the court
that the Saudi Arabia government has decided to allot 10,000
more seats to India.
However, the MEA counsel said that they had no such
instructions, following which the court said the issue was
between the two governments.