Policy Barring Differently-Abled : Haj panel chief to clarify stand on plea

Policy Barring Differently-Abled : Haj panel chief to  clarify stand on plea
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Highlights

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the CEO of Haj Committee of India to present himself before it on November 1 to clarify its stand on a PIL against the bar on differently abled people from performing annual pilgrimage

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the CEO of Haj Committee of India to present himself before it on November 1 to clarify its stand on a PIL against the bar on differently-abled people from performing annual pilgrimage.

The court's direction came after no one appeared for the Haj Committee of India, despite a notice being served to HCoI on the petition filed by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal.

A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao directed the secretary of Ministry of Minority Affairs to serve an additional notice to HCoI Chief Executive Officer M A Khan and observed that in case of non-appearance of the officer, action will be taken by the court.

The court asked Khan to appear before it on November 1, the next date of hearing, to clarify the committee's stand on the issue.

The petition filed by Bansal had sought quashing of provisions in the new Haj policy that bar differently-abled persons from undertaking the annual Haj pilgrimage.

The court had sought response of the Ministry of Minority Affairs, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and HCoI on the petition alleging that some provisions of the new policy violated Articles 14, 21 and 25 of the constitution, pertaining to equality and freedom to practice religion.

The Centre, in its response, said that the bar on differently-abled people from undertaking Haj was retained in the new policy as was the practice for the past 30 years, since the journey is physically demanding.

The purpose is also to strictly screen the disabled due to instances of them indulging in begging, which is prohibited in Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Minority Affairs has said in its affidavit.

The other reason for the prohibition was that the pilgrimage is physically demanding and exhausting and, in case of a stampede, disabled people would be at risk more than others, it has said.

The Ministry, however, said it is sensitive to the issue raised in the PIL, especially in view of the Rights of Persons With Disabilities Act of 2016, and has directed the HCoI to look into the matter and recommend necessary corrections or amendments in the Haj policy of 2018-22.

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