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Judiciary

Delhi HC upholds forfeiture of Rs. 25 lakhs from Haj operator, rejects plea against blacklisting [Read Judgment]

By Shreya Agarwal      05 June, 2024 06:51 PM      0 Comments

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has upheld the forfeiture of Rs.25 lakhs and blacklisting of a Haj Group Operator (HGO) one Al Islam Tours Corporation, stating that Hajis can only be provided services and facilities by the registered HGO as all the affairs are overseen by the Union of India.

The bench of Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar dismissed the plea by Al Islam, stating that the punishment imposed is not disproportionate to the impropriety.

“Since the breach in the present case is of serious nature, the impugned punishment/embargo calls for no interference in the writ jurisdiction”, the bench held.

Al Islam’s security amount was forfeited by the Ministry vide an order in 2023 which blacklisted/debarred it from registration and allocation of Haj Quota or to operate as an HGO for a period of ten years.

Admittedly, the reason for blacklisting was that Al Islam’s actions violated the “Policy for Haj Group Operators for Haj 2019-23” by indulging in selling/transfer of Haj Quota seats.

The Court held in this regard that there was no scope for relief as the admitted fact is that the HGO had taken money from the Hajis without being a registered entity.

It refused to accept Al Islam’s arguments that by the time it entered into a package with the complainant, the list of the Haj pilgrims had already been published, and that the complainant Muzzamil Khan was only blackmailing Al Islam.

The unregistered HGO added that it was given ‘a clean chit’ by the police regarding the complaint.

Defending its actions, the HGO argued that it had only done a verbal agreement with the complainant Muzzamil Khan for ‘Land Package’ which included providing ancillary services (covering stay, transport, food, laundry, ziyarat and zamzam services) to the pilgrims in Saudi Arabia, excluding the Haj Visas.

Although Al Isam stated that there is nothing in the Haj Policy, which specifies that providing ancillary services is in violation of the policy, the Court refused to interfere in the matter.

[Read Judgment]



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