While disposing of contempt pleas filed against the Secretary Ministry of Religious Affairs, the Supreme Court Friday asked the government to ensure transparency and merit in allotting Hajj quotas to fresh and old Hajj group organisers (HGOs).
Advocate Mohammad Azhar Siddiqui on behalf of Arif Idrees had filed contempt pleas and represented more than 60 new HGOs, while Syed Ali Zafar, Kamran Murtaza, Sardar Muhammad Aslam and others filed contempt petition on behalf of 200 new Hajj group companies.
Resuming the hearing in the matter, a three-judge bench led by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan issued directives to the government for allocation of Hajj quotas to new companies on merit observing that non-allocation of Hajj quota to new entrants is against the constitutional provisions and monopoly in the hands of existing HGOs.
Concluding their arguments before the bench, the counsels contended that in the Hajj Policies of 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, no quota was allotted to the new entrants. They alleged that the secretary Ministry of Religious Affairs has committed contempt of court as he failed in allocating quota to new companies.
However, appearing on behalf of some existing Hajj group organisers, Advocate Abid Zuberi pleaded that it was mandatory for the committee on allotment of quota to reach consensus in the matter. He urged the court to issue directives to the government for restoration of Hajj quota of 50 per cent for his clients, saying in case new quota is received then quota may be given to the new organisers.
Deputy Attorney General for Pakistan Sajid Ilyas Bhatti apprised the bench that there is no condition for the committee to reach consensus, saying in the light of apex court’s verdict in the matter, the government will re-scrutinise the new Hajj group organisers for allotment of the quota. However, the bench asked the government to entertain new Hajj group organisers by ensuring merit and transparency and disposed of the contempt pleas.-Business Recorder