The new Hajj policy is not discriminatory in nature, the Centre told the Supreme Court of India. The allocation of subsidy is based on objective criterion of the Muslim population in the state, the Centre said while defending its new Hajj policy.
The response came in the wake of allegations made by the Kerala State Hajj Committee which said that the policy allots subsidised seats based on Muslim count in each state. This robs Muslims from smaller states like Kerala an opportunity to make the pilgrimage.
The Kerala committee said, "Bihar has a quota of 12,000 seats, but at least 5,000 seats remain vacant. Kerala has 95,000 applicants who want subsidy, but the quota is only for 6,000 seats. So, only one percent goes. So, this quota based on Muslim population in each State effectively discriminates against persons who are desirous to go for the pilgrimage."
The Centre represented by Attorney General K K Venugopal contended that the allocation of subsidy quota on the basis of Muslim population of a State has been there from the very beginning and did not start with the current Haj guidelines for 2018-22.
The court however said that it would intervene in the policy only if it found to be arbitrary. The matter will be taken up next on January 13.