Mumbai: The Ministry of External Affairs
on Wednesday told the Bombay High Court there was no scope of
alteration of the list of selected private tour operators sent
to the Saudi Arabia government for Haj and that any such
request could jeopardise the entire quota allotted to India
for the pilgrimage.
"Now there is no room for adjudication. If we today apply
for any modification then it will most likely be rejected by
the Saudi government and may also cause jeopardy to the entire
Haj pilgrimage. We apprehend this on the basis of the
correspondence between India and Saudi Arabia," Additional
Solicitor General Darius Khambata said.
The statement was also submitted by a joint secretary of
MEA in an affidavit submitted today.
A division bench of Justices D D Sinha and V K
Tahilramani was hearing 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 had sought to know from the MEA if any change
or modification to the final list submitted to the Saudi
government on September 14 would affect the bilateral
agreement between the two governments.
"Is there any bilateral agreement or contract which does
not permit modification after the list is submitted? If so
then the court cannot do anything," Justice Sinha said,
following which Khambata submitted the bilateral agreement
between the two countries to the court.
The court also asked the MEA if it was ready to
reconsider the 250 sq ft office area criteria for next year
and give priority to those operators who were held ineligible
"Every year a different policy is formulated based on the
situation and after proper application of mind. This year also
the policy was announced on June 24 itself. Why did the
petitioners wait till the last moment to approach the court,"
The court has now reserved its order in the case.
Khambata further said that MEA cannot accommodate the 45
operators who have approached the court now as only 800 seats
are remaining, which will be utilised by VVIPs and VIPs and