SC dismisses government plea to increase Hajj quota

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court dismissed on Tuesday the federal government’s plea seeking an increase in its quota for the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.
Deputy Attorney General Sohail Mahmood appeared before a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar.
Mahmood informed the bench that the Islamabad High Court, in a judgment last month, had reduced the government quota from 67 per cent to 60 per cent whereas it was reverted later by the federal cabinet.
The court inquired from the law officer how the cabinet could upend a court order.
Mahmood informed the court that as per the apex court’s orders, a committee was formed on the issue, adding that the private Hajj is far more expensive than the official one.
During the hearing, the chief justice inquired into the ‘illegality’ of the high court order on which the judgment has been challenged by the government. He then dismissed the government’s appeal.
The chief justice also observed that people should have the facility to perform a comfortable pilgrimage.
On March 16, the Islamabad High Court had set the Hajj quota at 60 per cent for government and 40 per cent for private Hajj operators for this year.
Earlier, the government had set its own quota at 67 per cent and the rest for private tour operators.

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