Delhi HC seeks Centre’s reply on plea challenging Haj guidelines

Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought the Centre’s response on the PIL challenging the Haj policy that allegedly barred people with disability from undertaking the annual Haj pilgrimage.

A two-bench Delhi High Court judge-led by acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar sought the response from the Central Haj Committee, Ministry of Minority Affairs and, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on the plea that demanded quashing of the provision in the Haj Policy of India (2018-22), which allegedly discriminates against persons with disability.

The guidelines say that any Indian Muslim citizen ”can apply for the pilgrimage, except those who do not have the mental or physical health to perform the pilgrimage, persons whose legs are amputated, who are crippled, handicapped, lunatic or otherwise physically or mentally incapacitated.”

The High Court issued notices to the Centre and the Haj Committee based on the petition filed by Gaurav Kumar Bansal, an advocate.

Bansal, in his petition, stated that prohibiting persons with disabilities to perform Haj is nothing but discriminatory, which is highly irrational and arbitrary.

It is against Article 14, Article 21 and Article 25 of the Constitution of India and is also inconsistent with the provisions of rights of persons with Disabilities Act, Mental Healthcare Act 2017, he added.

In his plea, the petitioner had stated that India has disturbed the “right to practice Islam” of a person with disabilities and added the restrictions are liable to be quashed.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled on April 7.