The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Central government to furnish details of Haj pilgrimage aspirants who are above 65 years and have applied for it five times without success.
Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chadrachud sought the details of such applicants in a tabular form by the next date of hearing on February 19.
As an ad-interim measure, the court directed the filing of the 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 pilgrimage”.
The order came on a petition by the Kerala State Haj Committee seeking rationalisation of allocation of Haj quota, contending that Kerala has more applicants but lesser allocation of Haj seats while Bihar has lesser number of applicants but more quota of seats.
Appearing for the Central government, Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand said the petitioner has not been able to flag the violation of Constitution’s Article 14 which guarantees equality before law.
The Centre had on January 5 defended its Haj policy under which a quota is allocated on the basis of the Muslim population in each state and contended that it was not discriminatory and based on objective criteria.
The court was told in the last hearing that the Haj policy was formulated by the Central Haj Committee after consulting 31 State Haj Committees.
Kerala State Haj Committee has moved the top court questioning the allocation of Haj quota on the basis of Muslim population saying that it deprives Muslims in smaller states including Kerala from undertaking the pilgrimages to Makkah and Madinah.
The court was told that Bihar gets the quota of 12,000 pilgrims but only gets 6,900 applicants to go for pilgrimage and Kerala get a share of 6,000 seats while there are 95,000 applicants for Haj.
The Saudi Arabian government allows India to send 1.7 lakh Haj pilgrims which in turn are distributed to the states in proportion to their Muslim population.