Former Supreme Court judge gives clean chit to MEA on Haj Quota issue

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New Delhi, Aug 27 (ANI): The Ministry of External Affairs has been given clean chit over the alleged discrepancies and imbalances in the Haj Quotas system.

Retired Supreme Court judge Arijit Parsayat, who was appointed to read into the alleged Haj Quotas cam, gave the clean chit to the Foreign Ministry.

According to MEA's spokesperson Vishnu Prakash, "Retired Supreme Court Justice Arijit Parsayat after reading the process has found that the procedure of Haj Quota is fair and transparent."

The ministry asked the former judge of the apex court to look into the matter after a news channel reported major discrepancies and imbalances in the Haj Quotas system and allegations were also made that the government has increased the share of private tour operators for Haj pilgrimage for which tens and thousands of Muslims apply every year.

The channel also alleged that private tour operators are making huge profits and have even put former Minister of state for External Affairs E Ahmed in the dock for making favour to them.

Senior parliamentarian and Minister of State for Railways, E Ahmed, has already denied the allegations, and termed it as a political vendetta to defame him.

Pilgrims enrolled through Haj Committee are given huge subsidies by the government and are charged only Rs.12000 for the air travel when the actual cost of travel is around Rs.90000. The government bears rest of the expenditure.

Private tour operators charge a huge sum of Ra. 2-2.5 lakh for the package, which includes travel, and lodging for the Haj pilgrimage.

According to sources, India has quota of 160491 pilgrims for the Haj this year out of which the Haj Committee allocates 115000 and the remaining are selected by the private tour operators.

Justice (retired) Arijit Prasyat also observed that inclusion of more private tour operators in facilitating Haj pilgrims gives more choice to the people.

Till 2005, private tour operators were assigned quotas directly by the Saudi Arabia Government.

The MEA further clarified that private tour operators are selected after they fulfill certain criteria like they could render seamless services. They are also expected to give undertaking along with bank guarantees of 2-6 lakh. The government also checks the track record of each tour operator.

This year Haj will begin from October 23 and will conclude on November 21 amidst the fear of Swine Flu. By Naveen Kapoor (ANI)

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