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Govt directed to prevent corruption in Haj arrangements

07 December, 2013

ISLAMABAD: Announcing its judgement in the suo motu case regarding irregularities in Haj 2010, the Supreme Court has directed the federal government to adopt strict measures in future in order to prevent corruption in Haj arrangements.

The court noted that not only had pilgrims been looted but this incident had brought a bad name to the country. Announcing its judgement in the Haj case on Friday, a three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, observed that the Haj tour operators charged Rs 5000 extra from each pilgrim. Such conduct, the court said, was tantamount to looting the pilgrims, who were performing a sacred religious duty.

The CJP, who has authored that judgement, directed the Ministry of Religious Affairs secretary to refer to the FIA the cases of the Haj tour operators who had been charging extra Rs 5000 to each pilgrim in addition to the agreed amount for security. The FIA will first issue notices to them, seeking explanations from them. If they fail to provide a satisfactory explanation, they will be investigated and all possible efforts will be made to ensure refund of Rs 5000 to each pilgrim who had been charged extra. Appropriate action will be initiated against the guilty tour operators, the court said.

It directed the religious affairs secretary to ensure that in future no extra amount is charged to the pilgrims in the name of security, etc. The court ordered the FIA to probe the matter thoroughly and determine whether the extra amount charged by the authorities has been reimbursed to the pilgrims or not. Disposing of the suo motu case of Haj scam, the court directed all the relevant authorities to submit a compliance report to the Supreme Court registrar.

The apex court asked the federal government to issue guidelines regarding Haj arrangements, including for hiring of buildings, provision of accommodation to the Haj pilgrims, transportation and other facilities during Haj. The FIA has been directed to take strict action against all those persons, including politicians, officers and others in echelons of power, who had interfered with and hampered the investigation in the Haj scam. "The amount of Rs 5000 charged by the Haj tour operators from each Haji in excess of the actual amount be refunded to them," the bench ordered.

The court directed the government to expedite the extradition of one accused, Ahmed Faiz, from Saudi Arabia and bring him before the law authorities.


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