LAHORE – The Lahore High Court chief justice on Monday restrained the Ministry of Religious Affairs from allotting 5,000 quota out of 89,605, reserved for private Haj Group Organizers (HGOs).

Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial also directed the ministry to make the new Haj Policy 2013 available on the ministry’s website in order to facilitate the new HGOs.

The court also sought reply from the ministry on a report submitted by the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) on cartelisation among old tour operators.

The court was hearing a petition moved by Aqsa World Travel & Tours (Pvt) Ltd. The petitioner through counsel submitted that the government had announced new haj policy under which 179, 210 quota had been allotted to private and government haj tour operators on fifty per cent basis.

The counsel pointed out that the LHC had directed the ministry in June 2012 to allot 5,000 quota to private HGOs left by the defaulters operators or obtaining more quota from Saudi Arabia.

But contrary to that the ministry was allotting quota only to old HGOs about whom the commission in its inquiry report had pointed out that they had cartelised their business with the convince of ministry officials, the lawyer added.

In violation of court orders the ministry put ban on allotment of quota to private HGOs, the lawyer maintained.

He also pointed out that under the new government haj policy the cost of haj has touched to Rs 421,070 which was not bearable for a common man. He alleged the ministry was deliberately ousting the private HGOs from the process.

He requested the court to take the notice of the matter and direct the ministry to make sure the allotment of quota among the HGOs on merit.

REFUSED: Justice Nasir Saeed Sheikh of the Lahore High Court refused on Monday hearing a petition seeking appointment of judges in high courts through written test and interview after advertising the posts properly.

When the court took up case on Monday, the judge informed the petitioner’s lawyer AK Dogar about his inability from hearing the instant petition.

The judge said he was a member of judicial commission for appointment of judges in country’s higher and superior judiciary owing to which it would be appropriate for him to conduct hearing on the petition.

Justice Nasir returned the petition to LHC chief for its fixation before another bench.

The instant petition was filed in third week of February. On February 26, the LHC registrar office had raised objection on the petition which was removed by the same judge. However on Monday, the judge didn’t proceed further which means the hearing of the instant petition have been delayed further.

The Lawyers Foundation through its President Syed Feroz Shah Gilani moved the petition by submitting the appointment of judges in high courts and Supreme Court without conducting written and psychology test and interview was a violation of merit.

The eligible lawyers become disappointed when posts for judges in higher judiciary were not advertised and filled by a selection process disallowing many competent candidates from sitting in examination for the slots.

He had requested the court to issued directions quarters concerned to fill the vacant posts of judge in higher judiciary after written test and interview.

COMPENSATION: The LHC ordered the Punjab government to ensure payment of promised compensation to a cameraman of a private television channel, who was critically injured during media coverage of marathon race in 2012.

Justice Khalid Mahmood Khan directed the government to comply with the order within two weeks.

Aftab Shah, the cameraman, had filed a petition through counsel Aftab Bajwa submitting that Punjab government had announced a compensation of Rs1 million for him and also ordered Bank of Punjab to ensure release of the payment. He said almost a year had lapsed but the bank failed to make payment or respond to his repeated reminders.

reply sought:  The Lahore High Court on Monday sought reply from Punjab University Vice Chancellor Dr Mujahid Kamran and Registrar Dr Rass Rasood Khan for taking action over harassment.

Justice Shujaat Ali Khan issued the order on the petition moved by former director of Institute of Communication Studies (ICS) Dr Ahsan Akhtar Naz saying that the court ordered the probe him within 15 days.

The PU authorities did not submit inquiry report but he was suspended for 90 days, the petitioner said.