Apex court sets aside LHC decision


LAHORE, July 30: A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday set aside the Lahore High Court’s decision about allocating Haj quota to the lowest bidders from among the newly-enrolled Haj Group Organisers. The bench headed by Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jilani said the LHC decision was interference in policy matters of the government. The bench passed this order on petitions moved by old HGOs. Representing the petitioners, Advocate Afzal A. Haider argued that the LHC had issued the order to grant Haj quota to the newly-registered organisers and it was beyond the jurisdiction of the court. He said the allotment of the quota was a policy matter of the government and courts had no authority to intervene into such matters.

The counsel stated that after receiving offer letters they (petitioners) made arrangements for transportation and accommodation of the pilgrims and spent millions of rupees on these arrangements but the LHC deprived them of the quota.

He said if they were not given the quota, they would be facing a great financial loss. He urged the court to set aside the impugned order issued by the LHC on June 24.

On the other hand, Advocate Azhar Siddique, the counsel for the newly-enrolled HGOs, argued that the LHC decision was for the welfare of the general public. He said the court ordered the Ministry of Religious Affairs to grant quota to those HGOs qualifying the standards and offering Haj at minimum expenses.

He alleged that the old HGOs in connivance with the ministry had made performance of Haj a very expensive affair and were minting money only.

The bench heard both sides and set aside the order issued by the LHC, directing the ministry to allocate quota according to the Haj Policy 2013. The bench adjourned further hearing till Aug 7.