LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Friday stayed allocation of additional Haj quota among new private haj group organisers (HGOs) and sought a reply from the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

Justice Shahid Karim issued the stay order on a petition filed by the association of HGOs questioning alleged discrimination in the process of allocation of Haj quota on the part of the ministry.

Advocate Azhar Siddique represented the association and argued that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had decreased pilgrims quota by 20 per cent in 2013 due to construction work for the extension of Masjid Al-Haram.

He pointed out that the quota was allocated between the government and private tour operators with a percentage of 60 and 40, respectively. He said the Saudi administration this year awarded an additional quota of 15,790 pilgrims to the Pakistan government.

The counsel stated the government was allocating the additional quota among newly registered HGOs only and ignored the operators with a long experience. He said the ministry had already committed irregularity in allocation of earlier quota among HGOs.

The judge restrained the ministry from allocating the additional quota among the HGOs and directed it to file a detailed reply by May 20.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2019