Corruption scandal: Supreme Court orders action in Hajj scam case

Published: December 7, 2013
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File photo of the Kaaba. PHOTO: AFP

File photo of the Kaaba. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: 

The Supreme Court ordered the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to initiate an inquiry against those who were hindering the process of investigation in the Hajj corruption case.

Announcing its order, the three-member bench stated that extra money was charged from the pilgrims in 2010 and asked the FIA to review the costing surplus and find out whether the pilgrims were reimbursed.

It added that the pilgrims should be paid Rs5,000 each, if they have not already been paid. While reading out the order, the bench remarked that the scam became a national disgrace and asked the authorities to make better arrangements with the pilgrims.

Former Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Hamid Saeed Kazmi, former director-general Hajj affairs Rao Shakeel and former additional secretary to ministry of religious affairs Raja Aftabul Islam were accused of being involved in widespread corruption.

They were accused of renting residential buildings for Pakistani pilgrims in Saudi Arabia at exorbitant rates and inflicting a loss of a billion rupees to the national exchequer.

Most of the buildings rented by the Hajj administrators were situated at least five kilometres from the Haram, while according to the law accommodation chosen for the pilgrims should not be more than two kilometres away from the Haram.

FIA is directed to probe into the matter and determine whether the extra amount charged had been returned to the pilgrims.

The bench further stated that strict measures should be adopted in the future in order to avoid such incidents of corruption in Hajj arrangements, whereby not only the pilgrims had been looted but it brought bad name to the country.

The bench asked the authorities to issue guidelines regarding the Hajj arrangements including the bookings for accommodation, transportation and other facilities provided during the pilgrimage.

The FIA is also directed to take strict action against all those people including politicians, officers and others who hampered the process of investigation.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 7th, 2013.

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