Hajj on govt expenses: FIA directed to recover money

The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to recover money till April 22 from all pilgrims whose expenses were paid from the national exchequer during the last two years.

The court also directed the FIA to launch criminal cases against those who assisted in the scam as well as flouted the rules and regulations by sending 270 persons to perform Hajj.

A six-member bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Javed Iqbal ,Justice Raja Fayyaz Ahmed,Justice Muhammad Sair Ali, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Ghulam Rabbani resumed hearing of the suo moto case regarding the corruption in Hajj arrangements.

FIA submitted a report to the SC which revealed that a large number of pilgrims were sent for Hajj by the ministry of religious affairs without any payment.

According to the report, the interior ministry also wrote a letter to the ministry of religious affairs for sending officials for performance of Hajj.

Ministry of interior also asked for special arrangement for pilgrims, the report added.

Additional Director General FIA Javed Bukhari told the court that around 35 million rupees were due against those persons who preformed hajj on National Exchequer during the year of 2009-10.

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa remarked that there is no king’s rule in the country that Interior ministry wrote a letter for free of cost hajj for some one else and Ministry of religious affairs followed it.

Chief Justice (CJ) observed that the Hajj scam investigation is unsatisfactory adding that FIA did not produce the list of pilgrims who performed the hajj from the national exchequer.

The CJ said that FIA has all resources but it has failed to recover enough amount from the pilgrims.

Shoukat Hayyat Durrani, secretary for religious affairs apprised the court that Khadmul Hajjaj were chosen for the looking after of pilgrims from the country.

Justice Javed Iqbal remarked that 95 percent Khadamul Hajjaj were sent on Hajj from the constituency of Minister for Religious Affairs, so what would be the transparency and policy for choosing Khadamul Hujjaj.

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa remarked that Secretary religious affairs should be present in Saudi Arabia for looking after of pilgrims and his mobile number should also be provided to each pilgrim. The court adjourned the case till April 22.