Politicising pilgrimage is bad religious practice: Bench

The Supreme Court on Tuesday came down critically on the Centre's practice of “politicising” the annual Haj pilgrimage by permitting official delegations to accompany the pilgrims, at a cost for the state exchequer.

“What kind of practice is this? Maybe, it has political use. It is a bad religious practice. It is not really Haj,” a Bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai said.

The court made the remarks while dealing with the Centre's appeal against a Bombay High Court judgement which had directed the Ministry of External Affairs to allow certain private operators to operate the service for 800 out of the 11,000 pilgrims earmarked under the VIP quota subsidised by the government. The Bench on October 10 stayed the order.

The Bench told Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati and counsel Harris Beeran, appearing for the Centre, that the government must evolve a new policy next year. “We will oversee the policy,” the Bench said.

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