ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday set aside a decision of the Lahore High Court over 2011 Haj Policy and directed that the policy for the new season and onwards should be fair and transparent.
The Supreme Court also directed that future policies should be made public without claiming any privilege by the authorities concerned.
The special four-member bench comprising Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan, Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain announced the short order after conclusion of arguments by the parties.
The decision was read out by Justice Javed Iqbal, who was heading the bench.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs was also directed to decide the pleas in accordance with law.
The Lahore High Court on June 06 declared the quota distribution under Haj Policy 2011 illegal.
All the petitions were converted into appeals by the bench.
Counsel for the respondents, including Ahmed Awais, Azhar Siddique and Hamid Khan concluded their arguments, stating that the new Haj Tour Operators deserved to be allocated a quota under Haj policy.
Akram Sheikh, , Ikram Chaudhry and other counsel for the operators who were granted quota, contended that new quota could not be granted at this stage.
They said that the LHC had also cancelled their allotted quota as well which was unfair.
During previous proceedings, Dr Babar Awan, counsel for the Ministry of Religious Affairs apprised the court that they had implemented major portions of international agreements regarding the Haj policy.
He said these agreements were not only of bilateral significance but also of trans-national value.
He said the government acted on Haj policy on its part and implemented its obligations regarding private partners, which were fulfilled when they issued them offer letters on March 23.
He said the Lahore High Court was not a proper forum over the policy issues.
“The writ jurisdiction in policy matters may be exercised with rarity and not with generosity,” he added.
He said due to the LHC verdict about 90,000 intending pilgrims were affected who would be performing Haj through private quota since the last date for entertaining such requests was set for July 15 by the Saudi government.
He appealed the court that the operational verdict of the Lahore High Court should be suspended as it could not sustain grounds.