ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court will announce its decision in Haj tour operators case today (Thursday). Senior most Judge of the apex court Justice Javed Iqbal directed the Religious Ministry to facilitate pilgrims in view of Surah Haj. He said future of pilgrims was at stake in the present situation and the court would announce its judgement today (Thursday) after hearing the arguments of all respondents. Justice Khilji Arif Hussain observed that the court does not want to disturb pilgrims. A four-member special bench comprising Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Mian Shahirullah Jan, Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain was hearing petitions against the Lahore High Court verdict. The Lahore High Court on June 6, 2011 had declared the Haj quota distribution under Haj Policy 2011 illegal and directed transparent distribution of quota. The court had barred the Ministry of Religious Affairs from carrying out the process of allocating Haj quota to private tour operators. Al-Rahem Travels & Tours (Pvt) Limited and 16 other petitioners had filed the petitions under article 185(3) of the Constitution by making Ministry of Religious Affairs, Haj, Zakat, Usher through its Secretary respondent. During the hearing, Hamid Khan, counsel for Tours Operators contended before the bench that prima facie the government had used delaying tactics in the formation of new Haj Policy 2011. He said that deadline for Haj arrangements is 15th Shawal and the Lahore High Court had examined all the affairs of Haj. Hamid Khan alleged that the money has been taken from Hajis and government had allotted quota to those Tour Operators, who were allegedly responsible in mismanagement last year. Upon this, Justice Javed Iqbal observed that it was wrong, as the government had not given quota to 19 Tour Operators, who were black listed. Defending the LHC judgement, Azhar Siddique, counsel for M/s National Air Travel, informed the bench that the government had not signed contract with the Saudi government but with a private company. He informed that quota was allotted to the Haj Group Operators (HGOs) on May 23 this year whereas the petitions in this regard were filed in LHC during April 2011. He pleaded that in order to provide residential and others facilities to pilgrims, government of Pakistan entered into contract with a private firm of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), which has no legal implications. He further told the bench that pilgrims were issued visas till September last year so there was sufficient time to issue visas in current year. He said that no building could be hired before the month of Shawal. He also informed that Religious Ministry had issued visas to Tour Operators till September 20 in last year. The court adjourned the hearing till Thursday (today).