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Affidavit
UNION GOVERNMENT'S CONTENTION
Dec 2008
COMMUNAL AWARD BY HIS MAJESTY'S GOVERNMENT-1932

Ministry of External Affairs is the administrative Ministry for Haj operations. The cost of Air Charter operations are being reimbursed to Air India through the budget of the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The details of subsidy provided since 1994 are as follows :

Year

 No.of pilgrims Travelled

 Subsidy per pilgrim(Rs.)

 Total subsidy (Rs.Crores)

1994

 21035

 5000

 10.5

1998

 63648

 17405

 110.8

2002

 70298

 24604*

 173.6

2008

 Above one lakh

 28000**

 413.0

(Budget) * Provisional  ** Figure relates to 2006


(i) The Government had taken the decision to grant subsidy to Haj Pilgrims for air fare in the mid nineties and since then the Government is continuing with the said policy decision. The decision of the Government cannot be called into question before a Court of Law unless it is ex-facie bad.

(ii) Writ Petition is politically motivated. The Petitioner is a member of Political Party and is misusing the process of the Hon'ble Court.

(iii) Parliament has the power to legislate in respect of pilgrimages to places outside India. Power to make financial provisions in respect of the same flows from Entry 20 of List 1 of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.

(iv) Article 282 gives broad powers to the government to incur expenditure by way of grants for any public purpose.

(v) The Haj Committee Act, 2002 was passed by Parliament for establishing the Haj Committee of India and State Haj Committees for making arrangements for pilgrimages for Muslims for Haj and matters connected therewith.

(vi) The word 'secularism' was inserted in the Preamble to the Constitution by 42nd Amendment Act, 1976. But the spirit of secularism was not absent in the Constitution prior to such amendment. There is, therefore, no violation of Principles of Secularism.

(vii) The government is not averse to the idea of granting support to the pilgrimage conducted by any community. The government are already providing assistance to pilgrims going to Kailash Mansarovar.

(viii) The Petitioner is trying to misinterpret the concept of secularism. There is a distinction between essential activities of religious and secular aspects connected with religion.

(ix) Haj pilgrimage has certain foreign relations and foreign policy aspects. Haj is taking place in a foreign country, Saudi Arabia, which is an Islamic country. India has a large Muslim population and therefore keeping better relations with Saudi Arabia and others is an aspect of international relations and foreign policy.

(x) The pilgrims are entitled to purchase a certain amount in foreign exchange for use in Saudi Arabia as per the category of accommodation opted by them. The foreign exchange is utilized for making payment of accommodation rentals and compulsory dues. The balance amount is paid to the pilgrims as cash at embarkation point for meeting day to day expenses during the period of stay in Saudi Arabia.

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