SC cuts Haj quota for govt to 300
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The Supreme Court Monday reduced substantially the government's "discretionary and dignitaries" quota among Haj pilgrims. The court fixed the 2012 Haj quota at 300 seats against the government's proposed 5,050.
A bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai capped the number of seats in the president's quota at 100, in the vice-president's and prime minister's quotas at 75 each, and in the external affairs minister's at 50.
Apart from the government quota, the bench reserved another 200 seats for the Haj Committee of India (HCOI), for which 500 seats had been proposed.
The government had told the court that it wanted to keep aside 2,550 seats for recommendations by dignitaries and eminent personalities and needy nominees who had been unsuccessful in the Haj Qurrah (draw of lots).
But the number went up to 5,050 after the government merged into its discretionary quota 2,500 seats reserved for the Bohra community, which this year got 3,000 seats directly from the Saudi Arabia authorities.
The bench said it had no objection to allocation of Haj seats under government rules, but hoped representations would be made on a "reasonable basis".
The seats freed up as a result of the caps on dignitaries' and HCOI's quotas would go to Haj committees of states and union territories, who would allocate them as per rules, the bench said.
The court restrained high courts from entertaining any writ petition on registration of pilgrims for Haj 2012, and directed that all such petitions be transferred to the Supreme Court. It appointed advocates Huzefa Ahmadi and Ijaz Maqbool amicus curiae to assist in examining the functioning of HCOI and state Haj committees.
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