KARACHI: The Sindh High Court directed the standing counsel on Monday to submit an agreement signed between the governments of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia on the registration of private Hajj tour operator companies.
A division bench, comprising Justice Ghulam Sarwar Korai and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, was hearing identical petitions filed by Hajj tour operators against what they said was discriminatory registration by the religious affairs ministry.
The counsels submitted that the petitioner firms had moved applications to the religious affairs ministry for the registration of a Hajj pilgrims quota allotted for this year. But, the ministry denied to issue them registration forms.
They stated that recently some tour operators had approached the Supreme Court over the matter. The SC then ordered the ministry to issue registration forms to tour operators.
They contended that ministry officials had misinterpreted the court orders and only issued forms to those firms, which had filed cases in the SC, while others were denied. They alleged that the ministry was discriminating against the petitioners and prayed the court to pass directions that the ministry issue them the forms.
On Monday, standing counsel Cookie Rawat filed comments, stating that the petitioners did not fulfill the criteria laid down by the Ministry of Hajj of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Hajj group operators should hold a Munazzam card number. The SHC division bench adjourned the hearing till August 5 with direction to the standing counsel to ensure the presence of the deputy director Hajj at the next date to assist the court in resolving the controversy between the petitioners and the respondents.
The standing counsel was also directed to submit a copy of the agreement between the two governments.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2010.
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