Centre urged to review decision on notary-attested affidavit

The Central Haj Committee decision asking all Haj applicants to submit affidavits attested by a notary public that they have never performed Haj with government aid before has drawn strong criticism. The current and former chairpersons of the State Haj Committee have asked the Centre to review the decision.

Kottumala T.M. Bapu Musliar, State Haj Committee chairman, has written to the Central Haj Committee pointing out that it is an unnecessary move which would bring inconveniences to the applicants.

P.T.A. Rahim, MLA and former State Haj Committee chairman, says the new move would drain the pockets of the pilgrims to the tune of crores of rupees collectively.

An applicant will have to spend Rs.250 on an average to get a notary-attested affidavit, which will include the stamp paper fee of Rs.50 and a notary stamp fee of Rs.50.

“Not only does it affect the purse of the applicant, but also put him or her to various difficulties,” said Mr. Rahim. In Kerala alone, there will be around 50,000 applicants. Out of them, less than 8,000 will be selected for the pilgrimage. Nationwide, there will be about one million applicants. Only one-tenth of them will be selected for the pilgrimage.

Mr. Rahim points out that the new move, implemented as part of ensuring that only first-timers are selected for the Haj, is bringing business to another class which has nothing to do with the Haj.

‘Unfair’

Mr. Bapu Musliar says it is unfair to insist on notary affidavits from all applicants. “Only those who are selected can be asked to provide such affidavits. And all applicants can be asked to provide a self-affidavit to certify that they did not perform the Haj before,” he says.

He says he expects a positive reply from the Centre to his demand. “We should know that all those going for the Haj by spending nearly Rs.1.5 lakh are not rich. Many of them are poor. It’s their life’s ambition. Each penny is of great value to them. We should not make them spend unnecessarily,” says the Haj Committee chairman.

Fare not known now

This year’s Haj fare is yet to be announced by the Haj Committee. Last year, the green category applicants had paid Rs.1.65 lakh and the Azizia category applicants Rs.1.33 lakh. “The amount may slightly go up this year. However, we don’t expect a drastic rise,” says the chairman.

Several thousands of Haj aspirants have already applied since application forms began to be distributed from February 6. March 20 is the last date to apply. Application forms are available at all collectorates, Wakf Board offices, and the Haj Committee offices at Kozhikode and Karipur.

Last year, there were 49,403 applicants. Only 8,400-odd were selected. Kerala had the largest waitlist of 41,000 aspirants last year.

The chairman says the Haj quota for the States should be fixed on the basis of the number of applications and not on the basis of the State’s population.

As many as 8,830 pilgrims had gone to Makkah through Karipur under government supervision last year. When 313 of them were from Lakshadweep, 71 were from Mahe.

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