The chief justice passed the order on a petition of different tour operators challenging the Haj Policy 2012 through their lawyer Muhammad Azhar Siddque.
Earlier, Azhar told the court that the Haj policy was in violation of article 3,4,18 and 25 of the Constitution. He pointed out that the ministry did not have the authority to permit a certain group of people to do certain business by allotting Haj quota since article 18 of the Constitution allows every citizen freedom of trade, business or profession.
He said the ministry had prepared the draft of Pakistan Haj Pilgrims Commission law but it was never tabled before the national assembly for approval.
Representing the federal government, Deputy Attorney General Nasim Kashmiri said the affairs of Hajj policy were being run under the rules of business. The court and petitioner’s counsel, however, did not agree with him.
The petitioners’ counsel said the Haj quota was not allotted on merit because as the ministry neither scrutinised tax returns submitted by tour operators nor examined the record of Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan.
He contended that these tour operators had established cartelization but the CCP was playing the role of a silent spectator and taking no action against them.
The counsel for the CCP also turned up and told the court it would assist the court. The chief justice said the ministry gave clean chit to tour operators by imposing a minor fine. Later, he adjourned the hearing until October 1 and directed the ministry and the CCP to submit reply.
The operators’ petitioner contended that due to unjust distribution of quota among private tour operators, it had become impossible for a common operator to afford Haj expenditure.
They pointed out that 70 tour operator companies were being run in the names of close relatives of officials of ministry but no action had been taken against them. They said quota should be given to the companies that were fulfilling all legal requirements.
They requested the court to issue direction to government to ban performing of Haj on government’s expenses and make legislation to regularise the quota. They appealed to the court to direct the respondent to associate the stakeholders and non-governmental associations for making Haj policies friendly based on transparency and cancel Haj quota made on the basis of favoritism. They further requested that respondents might be directed to register their names with the Saudi government for quotas.