The Haj Committee of India has informed the Kerala High Court that the bilateral agreement for Haj-2013 signed between India and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia provided that women could undertake Haj accompanied only by their Mahrims (male close relative with whom marriage is not permissible).

In an affidavit, the committee said the stipulation that women going for Haj should be accompanied by their Mahrims was not a new issue. In fact, it was imposed by the Islamic Shariah and applicable to all women undertaking the pilgrimage.

A maximum number of five applicants consisting of family members or near relatives could apply in a single cover. It was in the interest of pilgrims that only family members having blood relation or near relatives were included in the cover.

In case a few pilgrims under one cover intended to prepone / postpone the date of flight it would not be permitted.

The pilgrims under a cover would have to travel together and stay together.

If the head of the cover cancelled his application for Haj, he should indicate the name of another male member from among the male members of such cover, as head of the particular cover.

The change of Mahram was allowed only in specific cases on account of death /medical grounds, the affidavit said.

The affidavit was filed in response to a writ petition