LAHORE - A division bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Ministry of Religious Affairs to allocate the entire quota strictly in terms of the Haj Policy 2013.

The bench comprising Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani and Justice Mian Saqib Nisar also held that the high court could not transgress in the policy making domain of the executive.

The apex court bench at Lahore Registry passed the orders on the petition moved by old HGOs challenging the quota allotment on the LHC orders.

The petitioners through their counsels submitted that they were HGOs since 2002 and organised successful Haj operations for their clients. They pointed out that they were allocated quota for 48 pilgrims by the ministry after which they started booking of pilgrims who intended to perform Haj. And for the purpose, they procured rented places both in Makkah and Madina for the residences of the pilgrims and paid huge amount in advance to the Saudi citizens, the petitioners’ counsels pointed out.

They contended that the LHC passed an order without hearing the petitioner HGOs who had made full arrangements for the pilgrims.

Ministry’s Secretary Shahid Khan told the bench that the ministry had to allocate the quota in the ration of 60:40 of which major part had already been allocated between the government and private sector.

He said that if the ministry comply with the various interims orders passed by the high court of Sindh, Peshawar and Lahore, it would not be possible for it to organise the Haj Policy in terms of its settled schedule. He said the first flight for the pilgrims was scheduled for September 08.

Advocate Azhar Saddique, counsel for respondents who are new HGOs, submitted that the Haj Policy was a violation of the Article 18 of the constitution. He argued that the new HGOs moved before the LHC as there were apprehensions in their minds that the quota would likely to be allocated arbitrarily and on favoritism.

Additional Attorney General Abdul Hayee Gilani submitted that the high court had no jurisdiction to interfere in the policy making domain of the executive.