The Supreme Court Monday said the "goodwill" delegation that the
government sends every year during Haj to Saudi Arabia has become
some kind of VIP quota and was not in conformity with religious
duty and it should be stopped.
An apex court bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice Ranjana
Prakash Desai said the government has proposed to reduce the
strength of the "goodwill" delegation to one plus nine, but it
should come down to one plus three or four and eventually should
"You have suggested that you will reduce it to one plus nine, but
we want it at one plus three or four and that should be also be
discontinued in the next few years," the court told the
Justice Alam said the visit by the goodwill delegation was started
in 1967, as a goodwill gesture to the Saudi Arabian government and
could not be allowed to go on in perpetuity. The court said it has
become some kind of VIP quota and was not in conformity with
The government told the court that it intends to reduce the
present strength of the "goodwill" delegation from existing 32
people to ten.
The affidavit filed by the government said that besides conveying
India's goodwill to Saudi Arabia government, the delegation also
interacts with the "Haj pilgrims from India, understands their
issues and takes up the same with Saudi Arabian authorities."
"The delegation addresses these issues in their meetings with the
Minister of Haj, Saudi Arabia and the Governor of Makkah," the
The goodwill delegation that first went in 1967 had three members
which peaked to 35 in 2005.
The court was told that the subsidy per Haji was Rs.38,800 in 2011
which was Rs.5,000 17 years back in 1994. The total Haj subsidy in
2011 was Rs.685 crore, while it was Rs.10.51 crore in 1994.
In the current year 1,70,000 Hajis would be going from India to
Makkah. In 2011 the total number of Indian Hajis who travelled to
Makkah was 1,70,491. Based on a resolution passed by the
Organization of Islamic Countries, the Saudi Arabia authorities
allocate 1,000 pilgrims for every one million Muslim population.