Supreme court backs women tour operators on
Monday April 30, 2012 10:03:36 PM,
New Delhi: Even as
it reserved its verdict, the Supreme Court Monday asked the
government to consider women private operators in the process for
the allocation of Haj quota of pilgrims going to Makkah every
The apex court bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice Ranjana
Prakash Desai asked the government to consider the plea after it
was told that women Haj operators were being discriminated against
in the selection process for the allocation of Haj quota.
The court said there would be no discrimination in the selection
of women tour operators.
The apex court reserved its verdict on the central government's
petition challenging the Oct 5, 2011 Bombay High Court judgment by
which it directed the government to give its remaining quota of
800 Haj pilgrims to private operators so that it may not go
The high court judgment came after some private tour operators
moved it challenging the external affairs ministry's policy which
said that only those operators would be eligible for the
allocation of Haj pilgrims quota who had an office space measuring
250 sq. feet.
The modified policy asked the tour operators to give bank
guarantee of Rs.100,000 for every 100 Hajis they were sending to
Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati told the court that it could not
accept the objections of the private Haj tour operators to the new
policy as it was pilgrim centric and not for enhancing commercial
The court said those who were engaged in sending pilgrims with a
motive of making money needed to be pushed.
The attorney general also reiterated that the requirement of
office space of 250 sq. ft. could not be compromised as private
tour operators were not just expected to make travel arrangements
of Haj pilgrims but also to train them how to perform the Haj and
how to go about it.
The court was told that Haj tour operators were expected to do so
in public interest.
The court was also told that no two people from the same family
would be selected for the allocation of Haj pilgrims quota. As the
attorney general said this, the tour operators pleaded that the
definition of family should not be made too wide and be restricted
to nuclear family only.
Vahanvati told the court that the government would not have any
objection to the suggestion to make the annual registration of
tour operators on-line.
He said that the suggestion that the duration of the quota
allocated to tour operators should be extended from five to 10
years was not acceptable.
He told the court that it would create difficulties in the event
of cancelling some operators' permit in the wake of the
allegations of malpractices.
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