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Updated: July 24, 2012 01:41 IST

Setback to Centre: SC cuts down Haj discretionary quota

J. Venkatesan
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Haj pilgrims submitting their applications at the Regional Passport Office at Secunderabad in this April, 2012 picture. Photo: K. Ramesh Babu
The Hindu
Haj pilgrims submitting their applications at the Regional Passport Office at Secunderabad in this April, 2012 picture. Photo: K. Ramesh Babu

In a setback to the Centre’s Haj policy, the Supreme Court on Monday turned down its proposal for a discretionary quota of over 11,000 Haj pilgrims a year from among 1.25 lakh pilgrims and reduced such allocations to only 500, including 200 for the Haj committee.

A Bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Desai fixed the discretionary quota for the President at 100; the Vice President and the Prime Minister at 75 each; the External Affairs Minister at 50 and the Haj Committee of India (HCOI) at 200 (as against the proposed 500).

On May 8, the court had directed the Centre to totally phase out the Haj subsidy in 10 years, holding that there was no provision in the Holy Quran for undertaking the visit to Mecca at the expense of the government or others. It had also expressed its reservations over the discretionary quotas.

On Monday, the Bench perused an affidavit filed by the Ministry of External Affairs proposing a quota of 5,500 pilgrims to be chosen on the recommendations from the offices of the President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, External Affairs Minister, 33 other Union Cabinet Ministers, 31 Governors/Lt Governors and 30 Chief Ministers, besides MPs, eminent persons and senior government officers. Under the allocations proposed by the Ministry, 1,500 seats were reserved for Jammu and Kashmir; 2,500 seats for states/UTs with applications in excess of their allocated quota for Haj 2012; 2,550 were reserved for dignitaries and eminent persons for needy nominees who had not been successful in the Haj Qurrah of the year.

The bench made it clear that it had no objection to allocation of seats for Haj under government rules but said that “this court feels that representation has to be made on reasonable basis.” However, it also clarified that its remark was not meant for the President and the Prime Minister. The Bench asked the High Courts not to entertain any petition relating to Haj and transfer all such petitions to the Supreme Court.

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sir, in olden days the khalifaas never collect income tax,property
tax and many other taxes which we the muslims in India are paying in
addition to THE ZAKATH a compulsary tax.If income tax on muslims is with drawn then this subsidy for HAJJ can also be with drawn.

from:  rahim mufti
Posted on: Jul 25, 2012 at 12:33 IST

Air India loses to get an annual bailout as Haj subsides no longer
viable now, now The Maharaja in real doldrums.

from:  Jaghir Hussain
Posted on: Jul 24, 2012 at 14:15 IST

MR.Syed Kabeer Ahmed, Thousands of temples are under government control and government takes has the control over the funds which is earned by temples. Hence it is the duty of the government to aid temples. But, Muslims and christian place of worship is not under government control, Let the government take control of Masjids and churches, then you claim aid.

from:  C S Sundaresha
Posted on: Jul 24, 2012 at 13:50 IST

It's not the Government that is eliminating subsidies (based on religion), but the supreme court. Hats off to the judicial system.

from:  Naveen
Posted on: Jul 24, 2012 at 07:24 IST

Agreed that the Haj subsidy go, since most of the benefit went to Air
India, which gave contracts to expensive offers to ply the passengers.
Haj is indeed an obligation and the person is solely responsible for
all his expenses for this pilgrimage. But why this whining by other
communities towards Muslims alone?

If seen thousands of temples across India get government aid, whereas
the Muslims place of worship is not even bothered. What should we call
this attitude here?

from:  Syed Kabeer Ahmed
Posted on: Jul 24, 2012 at 05:59 IST

Islam says that when a person is in a position to go for the Haj
Pilgrimage and having a plenty of money to maintain himself during the
period, he can go ahead and should not wait. The question of subsidy has
been a political bribe in our society. We should not permit or accept

from:  Afzal Naqash
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 22:50 IST

The decision by the SC should be respected by one and all. Haj is a purely religious programme and is obligatory on those who can afford it. By giving any quota or subsidy, it unnecessarliy interfare in purely religious domain. Hence, in the light of it, the decision by supreme court is worth appreciating.
However, there is unwarranted trend developing in social media about criticising any thing which has something to do with religious domain.
Some people take this as oppertunity to criticise government on this pretext, even terming the policy as vote bank measure.Some people unnecessarily start comparing it with other religious acitivity, where they feel , govt is not doing enough. Such statements unnecesarily creates reaction and counter reaction, thus creating friction among communities.
Being a muslim i would rather request the government to withdraw all kinds of subsidies given to any muslim religious activity, so that friction among people of different religion is avoided.

from:  Azaz Hafiz Mani
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 22:45 IST

Subsidies to a particular religious pilgrimage is anachronistic in a non religious state. India, supposedly secular, should refrain from such subsidies to any religious group or have them available to all on an equitable basis. If some of the pilgrims need financial or other support, more fortunate members of that community should happily take over that worthy cause.

from:  Mukunda Rao
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 21:13 IST

The discretionary quota, subsidy etc. on Haj pilgrimage may not be doing any good to the community as the Air India takes the major chunk of the benefit of subsidy. The subsidy amount will be phased out in 10 years as per Supreme Court's direction. This amount should be utilised for the upliftment of the downtrodden among the Muslims. Further, education and healthcare of the Muslims need huge investment. The subsidy may partly address the issue.

from:  HDash
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 20:55 IST

Why it takes 10 years to get rid of the government quota for Haj pilgrims? Why a constitutionally secular government has special quotas for the VIPs and VVIPs of the government for pilgrimage? Why these previlages are not provided to pilgrims who are Hindus, Christians and Buddhists? Why the State governments interfere in the management of the Hindu temples under the Devasoms? Why the government interfere in the activities of Hai Committees? Why the government has ministers for religious affairs? Why the government has reservations based on caste, religion, tribes? All these are constitutionally illegal in a secular democracy. The courts do not strike down these actions, but just advise the government not to indulge in some of these activities without enforcement. And sometimes the courts are proactive to sustain these types of discrimination, reservations and interference in religious activities. Are the judges part of the VIPS and VVIPs within Hai government discretionary quota?

from:  Davis K. Thanjan
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 19:57 IST

Does the Govt give subsidy for Hindu pilgrims- to Manasarovar or other places. why this head line news for a non critical item when there are other more important issues to be covered. Please do not cry foul on such issues. Govt should not favor any one religion,

from:  Bala
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 19:18 IST

Hajj is an obligation for those who can afford it. It does not require Muslims to ask for subsidies form individuals or govt. It was Indians highness to offer such subsidies.
However, if this money was spent on educating Muslim communities especially villagers it could have been better.

from:  Ozair Akhtar
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 19:16 IST

I think this judgement is very critical and certainly has socio-economic dimension. If we go to the heart of judgment then it is definitely a trend setter & this attitude should continue towards reservation & other subsidy policies of country ..which if didn't dealt promptly & sternly in near future then it will eat away all productivity of this country. The problem with our policy makers is that they make some amendments/policies in the light of nearby election for vote bank politics and eventually thereafter no one among their breed is able to take back or even evaluate the outcome of their electoral bonanza offer & these policies continues to bleed the common man...this must should stop & I just appreciate Honorable SC for this type of decision which has far reaching impact on nation as a whole..

from:  Gaurav
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 18:28 IST

Great first step. State should not subsidize or be involved in any religious activity.

from:  Menon
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 18:09 IST

We hope the apex count would rein in on the government on many vote bank
concessions and subsidies.

from:  chandru mani iyer
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 18:00 IST

This is another example which shows Judiciary's interference into the
Executive or Legislative organs. I wonder how Judiciary can entertain
such action which dictates the government to change their policies.
Here SC is not asking govt to change the quota figure but put its own
one. Judiciary can slam the moves of government but cannot control the
People elected govt.

from:  Thayyeb
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 17:48 IST

The govt should stop these subsidies, pilgrimage to any religious site is not a 'right', it should be made only if the pilgrim is able to pay for it.

from:  vipul dave
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 17:45 IST

Very nice initiative of government.

from:  Shekar
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 17:11 IST

This is a very good step by the Government. I welcome this. One by one
all the subsidies and quotas should be removed irrespective of any caste
or creed.

from:  Anish Varghese
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 16:53 IST

It is indeed a pity that only the Haj is subsidised.On the contraray, the Sabarimal pilgrims are charged ruthlessly by the government as well as private parties.

from:  Viswanath C
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 16:38 IST
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