Minority Affairs Ministry takes charge of Haj pilgrimage

Following President Pranab Mukherjee’s assent to amendments to the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961, the Centre on Saturday made public the gazette notification on the transfer of management of Haj Pilgrimage, including administration of the Haj Committee Act, 1959, to the Minorities Affairs Ministry.

The Ministry of External Affairs has dealt with the Haj pilgrimage and other aspects of the Act so far. Under the amended business rules in the Second Schedule, the Ministry would however, continue to oversee other pilgrimages to places outside India under the Indian Pilgrimships Rules, 1933, and pilgrim parties from India to shrines in Pakistan and vice versa.

The decision to transfer the management to the Ministry of Minority Affairs was taken earlier this year.

Every year, Haj Committee of India organises the All India Annual Conference for Haj Chairmen & Secretaries of State Haj Committees. Senior Officers of the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Civil Aviation and Air India attend the conference which reviews the arrangements and suggests improvements.

The Haj Quota is fixed by the Centre and the State-wise quota of seats is distributed among the States and Union Territories on the basis of their Muslim populations.

The MEA continues to be in charge of coordinating pilgrimages to shrines in Pakistan, Nepal and China and vice versa, travel for traders and pilgrims from India to the Tibet region of China.

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