Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has restrained the union government from disqualifying private tour operators (PTOs), conducting the Haj pilgrimage, on the basis of its press release prescribing conditions for appointment of such operators.
The Court was hearing a petition filed by All India Haj Umrah Tour Organisers Association and two others which had challenged a press release issued by the government on April 28, saying it was contrary to Supreme Court directives.
“This (issue) needs to be considered by the Court when the petition is taken up for admission and interim reliefs when the Court reopens after the summer vacation”, said a bench comprising Justices S C Gupte and K R Sriram.
“In the meantime, it appears that the seats for Haj 2014 are not likely to be immediately allotted since the qualification of PTO’s and issuance of certificates of registration are matters which are being considered by the central government in the light of various documents which are called for,” the judges observed on June 4.
Placing the matter before the regular Court on June 10, the bench, in the meantime, directed not to disqualify any PTO on the basis of the press release of April 28.
The court had on May 30 recorded a statement of the government that they had no proposal to send the list of PTOs to the government of Saudi Arabia till June 4. This was to dispel the apprehension voiced on behalf of the petitioners that the respondents are likely to send the list of PTOs to the government of Saudi Arabia.
On June 4, the government submitted a letter by Deputy Secretary (Haj) of the Government of India, Ministry of External Affairs, on 3 June, stating that the seats for Haj 2014 will be allotted to qualified PTO’s only after checking the documents referred to in the communication dated June 3.
The government further submitted the Ministry will issue merely a certificate of registration to qualified PTOs and once this is done it is the responsibility of the respective PTOs to approach the concerned authority of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for completion of subsequent formalities.