HC seeks Centre’s reply on plea to quash Haj policy barring differently-abled

The Delhi High Court today sought the Centre’s response on a plea seeking quashing of certain provisions in the new policy for Haj pilgrims that bar differently-abled persons from undertaking the annual Haj pilgrimage.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Hari Shankar issued notice to the Ministry of Minority Affairs, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and the Haj Committee of India on the petition alleging that some provisions of the new policy violated Articles 14, 21 and 25- pertaining to equality and freedom to practice religion of the Constitution.

The court directed authorities to file their response by April 11 on the petition filed by advocate Gaurav Bansal against the eligibility guidelines under New Haj Policy of Haj Committee of India Pilgrims for Haj 2018-2022 .

The guidelines under the ‘eligibility for Haj’ mentions that any Indian citizen who is a Muslim can apply for the pilgrimage except those “who do not have the mental or physical health to perform the pilgrimage, persons whose legs are amputated, who are crippled, handicapped, lunatic or otherwise physically/mentally incapacitated”.

Bansal, in his plea, contended that these provisions “blatantly discriminate” against persons with disabilities and violate the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.

The petition said, those affected with polio, congestive cardiac, tuberculosis, respiratory ailment, acute coronary insufficiency, coronary thrombosis, mental disorder, infectious leprosy, AIDS or any other communicable disease or disability also cannot take undertake Haj, an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca — the most holy city for Muslims.

Under the Act which was passed in December 2016, the types of disabilities have been increased from the seven to 21.

The newly-added types of disabilities include mental illness, autism, spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, chronic neurological conditions, specific learning disabilities, multiple sclerosis, speech and language disability.

Disorders such as thalassemia, hemophilia, sickle cell disease, multiple disabilities including visual and hearing impairment, acid attack and Parkinsons disease have also been included.

The petition said these provisions were “arbitrary, discriminatory and highly irrational and inconsistent with the Disabilities Act, 2016.

Source : PTI

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