Two months after ordering that the Haj subsidy be scrapped in a phased manner, the Supreme Court on Monday drastically reduced the government’s discretionary quota in allocation of seats for the pilgrimage from 5,050 to 300.
A bench of justice Aftab Alam and justice Ranjana Prakash Desai also specified the allocations under discretionary quota.
They said 100 pilgrims would be nominated by the President, 75 each by the vice-president and Prime Minister, 50 by the external affairs ministry and 200 by the Haj Committee of India (HCOI).
Haj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is the annual pilgrimage to Mecca every able-bodied Muslim must undertake if he or she can afford it.
Last year, 1.70 lakh people from India went on the pilgrimage organised some time after the fasting month of Ramzan.
The number of people permitted to go on the pilgrimage is determined by Saudi Arabian authorities in consultation with countries from where Muslims wish to travel.
Of those who went for Haj last year, 1.14 lakh selected by the HCOI and 11,000 by the government received a subsidy of R40,000 each unlike the 45,000 who went through private tour operators.