VIP quota for Haj pilgrimage cut by apex court (Lead)

July 23rd, 2012 - 8:27 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday reduced the VIP quota for Haj pilgrimage from 2,550 to just 300.

The apex court bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai said that under the reduced quota, the Indian president can recommend 100 pilgrims, the vice-president 75, the prime minister 75 and the minister for external affairs 50.

The remaining 2,250 VIP seats will move to the general Haj category.

Similarly the court said that 2,500 seats earmarked for Haj by the Bohra Muslims, which largely went unavailed and were counted under the discretionary seats, too would go to general category.

The court also reduced the seats given to Haj Committee of India from 500 to 200.

Having cut the discretionary quota, including those for VIPs and those given by the Haj committee, to bare 500, the apex court appointed H. Ahmedi as amicus curiae (fried of court) to assist it in improving the functioning of the central and the state Haj committees.

The apex court order came in pursuance of an affidavit filed by the central government.

The affidavit was filed over the court’s May 8 order seeking details of allocation of special government quota of 11,000 seats.

While expressing reservation over the manner in which seats were being allocated to favoured pilgrims under the four discretionary quotas, the court said: “We have some initial reservations on allocation of seats on recommendation by dignitaries and eminent persons.”

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