A two-member bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday set aside the Lahore High Court decision to grant Hajj quotas to new group organisers.
The bench headed by Justice Tasadduq Hussain Jilani said the LHC’s decision was “court involvement in policy matters.”
The bench issued the order on a petition filed by several old Hajj group organisers.
The petitioners’ counsel had submitted that the LHC did not have the jurisdiction to grant Hajj quotas to new HGOs. He said it was a policy matter and the courts were not authorised to intervene.
The petitioner said the organisers had spent millions of rupees on transportation and accommodation for pilgrims but the LHC had deprived them of their quotas.
He said they would lose millions of rupees if they were not awarded quotas.
Meanwhile, the new HGOs counsel submitted that the LHC’s decision was for the welfare of the general public. He said the court had given the quota to operators offering the best rates.
He said the old HGOs, in connivance with Ministry of Religious Affairs, were overcharging.
LHC Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial had directed the Ministry of Religious Affairs to allot quotas to those Hajj group organisers charging between Rs190,000 and Rs247,000 per pilgrim. The CJ had ordered the ministry to divide 910 pilgrims among 18 operators.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2013.