615 tour operators get court nod for handling Haj pilgrims

New Delhi, Sep 21 (Calcutta Tube) The Supreme Court Tuesday upheld the central government’s Haj policy for the year 2010 thereby clearing the way for 615 private operators to take pilgrims to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia starting October.

The decks for these private operators to arrange the travel of pilgrims were cleared after an apex court bench of Justice Mukundakam Sharma and Justice Anil R. Dave set aside a Kerala High Court order by which it had set aside the 2010 Haj policy.

The court said that it was not inclined to upset the existing arrangement and grant the prayer of the new private operators for allocation of Haj pilgrims as the same would open a Pandora’s box.

The court noted the central government’s assurance that it would consider the application of the 30-odd new operators, involved in litigation, in 2011 while allocating pilgrims for travel and stay in Jeddah.

The court in its order directed the government to give preference to new operators subject to their suitability.

The court also noted that in 2009 the new operators were kept out as the eligibility terms required that they should have applied for allocation of pilgrims for two year in succession earlier.

However, the 2010 policy said that only those operators could apply for allocation of pilgrims who had applied in 2009.

As a result, those who were excluded in 2009 continued to remain out of the 2010 process.

There are 45,491 Indian Haj pilgrims whose travel and stay in Jeddah is taken care of by 615 private operators. These pilgrims are in addition to about 115,000 others whose travel and stay is handled by the Haj Committee.

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