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LAHORE, Sept 25: The Lahore High Court chief justice on Tuesday ordered the Religious Affairs Ministry to allocate quota of 490 pilgrims to be distributed among 68 newly-registered Haj Group Organizers (HGOs).

Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial directed an additional secretary of the ministry, Muhammad Arshad Bhatti, to submit a compliance report in this regard on Wednesday (today).

Earlier, religious affairs secretary Azam Samaa and a section officer, Zafar Iqbal, also appeared before the court along with the additional secretary.

A senior lawyer, Imtiaz Rasheed Qureshi, also appeared in the court to defend the ministry’s officials.

However, the counsel for the new HGOs, Advocate Azhar Siddique, pointed out that Mr Qureshi was already representing previously registered organisers, so how come he (Qureshi) could defend the ministry in the same case.

He said the move established that the ministry and the old Haj organisers were hand in glove and bent upon depriving the new operators of their right.

The counsel said the ministry was delaying the allocation of quota to new operators, on the pretext that there was a stay order issued by the Islamabad High Court on the matter.

However, when asked by the CJ, the additional secretary admitted there was no such stay order. At this, the CJ directed him to allocate quota to the newly registered HGOs and submit compliance report on Wednesday (today).

Mr Samaa sought some time from the court for the allocation of quota, saying he was going to Saudi Arabia for some Haj affairs. The CJ asked him to ensure the implementation of the court’s orders.