LAHORE A full bench of the Lahore High Court headed by Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmad Ch Wednesday restrained the federal ministry for religious affairs from finalising and proceeding ahead till June 6 next with the process of awarding Haj quotas to Haj Group Organisers (HGOs). Also comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Umar Ata Bandial, the bench hearing the petitions of the private Haj operators who challenged the Haj Policy 2011 and system of allotment of Haj quota, stayed the respondent ministry from entertaining forms for the grant of quotas and other allied procedure till the said date when the matter would come up for further hearing. During the proceedings, the bench also accepted the applications of four other HGOs who prayed for impleading them party in the case. Through their counsel, they argued they had secured Haj quota so their stance should also be heard. The court, however, had to adjourn hearing till June 6 as the counsel for respondent Ahmar Bilal Sufi was busy before the Supreme Court. It sought adjournment of the case on which the chief justice observed that the court would need to stay the Haj quota process till the said date. So the court accordingly stayed the process. Petitioners counsel Muhammad Azhar Siddique and Ahmad Owais arguing the case submitted that allotment of the Haj quota had been going on over the last eight years on the basis of personal liking and disliking without observing a strict criteria or merit. They contended the quota had always been given to those Haj Group Organisers who got it first in the year 2004-5 allegedly after paying money. They said no restriction had been imposed by the Saudi government to grant the quota to the same operators. The CJ asked the federal law officers to explain on what basis Haj quota was being allotted. The law officers told the court that 650 Haj Group Organisers were allotted the Haj quota as per agreement with the Saudi government. Justice Sh Azmat Saeed asked the law officers whether or not the Saudi government had asked to allot quota specifically to these 650 HGOs. The petitioners counsel opposing the contentions said there was no such agreement or any direction by the Saudi government to allot the quota specifically to these 650 HGOs. Justice Sh Azmat Saeed and Justice Umar Ata Bandial asked the law officers to explain whether any transparent procedure was adopted for the Haj quota allotment under the Haj Policy 2011 as per directions of the court in case against Haj Policy 2006. The deputy secretary of the religious affairs ministry, however, told the court that strict scrutiny of the HGOs had been maintained, adding the ministry had received 238 complaints against the Haj Group Organisers and an attempt was made to black list the guilty ones. After hearing the arguments, the bench barred the religious ministry from finalising the allotment of Haj quota and directed the law officers and the counsel to come prepared on the next date of hearing, June 6.