The Union government has formed a six-member committee to study the ways to improve India’s Haj policy and look into the issue of subsidy to the pilgrimage in light of a 2012 Supreme Court order on gradually reducing and abolishing it by 2022.
The convenor of committee is Afzal Amanullah, former Consul-Consul General of India in Jeddah. Besides, former Bombay High Court judge SS Parkar, former Haj Committee of India Chairman Qaiser Shamim, former Air India Chairman and Managing Director Michael Mascarenhas and Muslim scholar, Kamal Faruqui, are its members.
- The committee will examine implications of various directions of the Supreme Court with regard to the existing Haj policy, and suitable amendments in it.
- It will also review the effectiveness of Haj Committee of India’s management of pilgrims’ accommodation and air travel.
- It will also figure out whether the pilgrims can travel to Saudi Arabia paying less in the absence of the subsidy.
- It will also assess the aspects of transparency, consumer satisfaction and disclosure requirements for private tour operators to protect interest of the pilgrims to make the policy of greater assistance to the pilgrims.
The Union Government gives Haj subsidy to Muslim Hajj pilgrims in the form of airfare subsidy as well as assistance for domestic travel to reach specially designed haj departure airport terminals. In 2012, the Supreme Court had directed the Union Government to gradually reduce and abolish Haj subsidy by 2022. It had ordered government to invest the subsidy amount (approximately Rs 650 crore a year then) on educational and social development of the community.