The Delhi High Court Wednesday sought the Minority Affairs Ministry’s response to a plea seeking an opportunity for all Muslim employees of Centre, states and Union Territories to assist Haj pilgrims instead of deputing only Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) personnel.
A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad asked the Haj Division of the Union Ministry to place its stand on record and listed the matter for further hearing on May 10.
The petition has challenged the March 20 office memorandum of the ministry on temporary deputation which includes only employees working in CAPF.
The plea by Aamir Javed, an advocate, sought direction to amend the office memorandum to the extent of giving opportunities to all Muslim employees of Centre, States and Union Territories to assist Haj pilgrims as coordinators (admin), assistant Haj officers and Haj assistants for Haj-2023.
Otherwise, the office memorandum violates Article 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution, the plea claimed.
According to the office memorandum, approximately 1.4 lakh Indian pilgrims will be participating in Haj-2023. The first flight for the pilgrimage from India will take off on May 21. The annual pilgrimage will take place around June end.
“The petition is being filed on the basis that other Central or state government/UT administration employees are not eligible for any deputation in the office memorandum… dated March 20, 2023, which earlier was a practice of the Government of India to send male and female members of the Muslim community who are employees of various government departments on deputation on a temporary basis to Consulate General of India, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to render assistance to Haj pilgrims,” the plea said.
It also said that the office memorandum specifically cites that the work involved is administrative in nature and thus there is no reason as to why only CAPF employees are eligible and other permanent employees are not.
This violates the constitutional rights of other employees to serve Haj pilgrims, the plea said.
The petitioner said that a letter was sent to Union Minority Affairs Minister Smriti Irani on March 22 requesting to amend the office memorandum. However, no response was received after which the petition was filed in the court.