Here in New Delhi the state government has been directed by the Supreme court of India to frame a five-year policy for regulating the Hajj pilgrimage to replace the current annual plan which it termed as “ad-hoc and unsatisfactory.
The apex court also held the government’s policy allowing repeaters to accompany lady and elderly pilgrims as ‘mehrams’ (unmarriageable kin), but without availing subsidy, as “legal, constitutional, fair and reasonable”.
“We accept the suggestion of the Amicus and hold that the practice of framing Haj Policy on an annual basis is quite ad-hoc and unsatisfactory and must be replaced by a policy framework made for a period of five years. We, accordingly, direct that the Hajj Policy that is to be framed this year would be for a period of five years and would be called the Hajj Policy 2013 – 2017,”according to the court.
A bench comprising justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai directed that “the Haj Policy should pay attention to special needs of the lady pilgrims and it should be aimed at making the pilgrimage for lady pilgrims as smooth and trouble-free as possible.”
The court also accepted the suggestion that the entire Hajj process must be completed in a time bound manner with permissible grace periods where practicable and schedule for making applications, scrutiny etc should be published in advance with firm cut off dates in the Haj Policy itself so that the public at large is informed, well in advance, about those dates which should be treated as inflexible and should not be extended at any cost.
“We accept the submission of Amicus and direct that the time schedule with regard to the Hajj process as fixed by the Hajj Committee of India should be strictly adhered to and no authority or court should interfere in the process of submission of applications, scrutiny and allotment of seats by the Hajj Committees, in case the interference would lead to disturbing the time schedule.
“This direction is made keeping in view that in appropriate cases individual interest must yield to the larger good and in the larger interest,” the bench said.