Additional Haj quota will be allocated on merit: LHC

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The Lahore High Court (LHC) Tuesday set aside allocation of additional 15,000 Hujjaj quota to old Haj Group Organisers (HGOs), ordering that the allocations be made to new and old HGOs on merit.

Justice Muhammad Khalid Mehmood Khan passed the short order while allowing petitions filed by Muhammad Arif Idrees and tour operators to the extent of additional Haj quota only.

The court announced the short order in an open court which had been reserved after hearing arguments of both parties.

Earlier, petitioner’s counsel Muhammad Azhar Siddique submitted that Haj Policy 2014 was not framed in accordance with the Supreme Court’s directions.

Azhar said that 19 old HGOs were allotted quota against merit and the ministry did not undertake any exercise for allotment of the quota on merit.

He said that the Religious Affairs Ministry allotted a quota of 15000 Hujjaj to new HGOs after withdrawing it from government Haj Scheme despite the fact that government Haj scheme was far inexpensive than the HGOs. He said this was the reason for the rise in the cost of Haj. He pleaded the court to set aside the Haj policy.

However, a law officer contended that the policy was framed on merit and under directions of the Supreme Court.

He said that the ministry withdrew a 20 percent quota of HGOs in 2013 and signed an agreement with the HGOs that the ministry would allot an additional quota in 2014. He said that the additional quota of 15,000 was allocated to the HGOs per the agreement. He pleaded the court to dismiss the petition.