SC setback to Centre on Haj pilgrims quota

The SC declined to entertain Centre`s request to defer till next year its July 23 order limiting government`s discretionary quota for Haj pilgrims.

Last Updated: Jul 27, 2012, 13:56 PM IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday declined to entertain the Centre`s request to defer till next year its July 23 order limiting the government`s discretionary quota for Haj pilgrims.

A bench of justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai refused to accede to the government plea, put forward by Attorney General GE Vahanvati and counsel Harris Beran to defer its order till next year.

Vahanvati made the submission at the fag end of the hearing of a bunch of petitions by private tour operators (PTOs), who have challenged certain norms fixed by the government for the operators.

On July 23, the apex court had drastically reduced the government`s discretionary and dignitaries quota seats for Haj 2012 pilgrims to 300 from the proposed 5,050 seats and had hoped they would be allotted on "reasonable basis".

Earlier during today`s hearing, the bench maintained that there could be no monopolisation and asked the Centre to frame a fresh PTOs policy for the annual Haj pilgrimage from next year onwards.

The court asked the AG to come out with a new policy for permitting fresh players in private transport sector.

"We know that the present policy is not perfect. But we do not want to interfere with this year’s policy," Justice Alam observed.

The bench, however, said there were lot of scopes for improvement in the government`s present policy by taking into consideration the suggestions and complaints made by various tour operators who have been knocked out of the business on account of certain norms prescribed by the government.