The Supreme Court Tuesday asked the Centre to furnish details of Haj applicants aged between 65 and 70 years who have not been able to go for the pilgrimage despite applying four times.
The direction came on a plea by the Kerala Haj Committee seeking an all-India draw of lots to decide the Haj quota.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud asked the Centre to file its response by February 19. The top court clarified that it was only an ad-interim measure.
“Purely as an ad-interim measure, it is directed that Pinky Anand, Additional Solicitor General, shall file a statement with regard to the fifth time applicants, who have crossed the age of 65 years and are below 70 years and have never been able to go for the pilgrimage,” the bench ordered.
Appearing for the petitioner, advocate Harris Beeran said under the previous Haj policy, those who had not succeeded despite applying four times were automatically considered eligible the fifth time. But this had been dropped, he said.
Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, who appeared for the Centre, said the government’s policy was that all Haj seats should be proportionally distributed among the states and all of them should be given equal opportunity.
The bench then asked Anand as to what happened to the surplus seats. She said the surplus seats “are kept in general pool and then subsequently distributed among the states on the basis of application received statewise.”
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Haj Committee, said the current policy to give state-wise quota was “arbitrary” and “discriminatory”.