Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Division Bench comprising of Abhay Manohar Sapre and Ashok Bhushan, J.J., granted the permission to thirty private tour operators to apply for Hajj permit with the fresh applications for the year 2016 on or before 27th May, 2016 to the prescribed authority. The Bench said that applications will be considered strictly on the basis of merit in accordance with the law.

The petitioners, the Private Tour Operators (PTOs) who send the pilgrims for Hajj, filed the petition based on the apprehension that their applications, if made or those which are pending with the authorities for grant of permission to undertake Hajj Yatra for the current year 2016 are likely to be rejected thereby making their apprehension a reality and grievance infructuous. Upon this, Neeraj Kishan Kaul, Additional Solicitor General submitted that so far no decision has been taken on any of the applications made by these PTOs and suggested that the petitioners submit fresh applications for reconsideration.

 The Court accepted the aforesaid submission and said that the reasoned order be passed on each such application by 26.06.2016 and the same be communicated to the applicants. The Bench didn’t express any issue regarding the suggested mechanism and thus, directed the fresh applications to be filed by applicants. [Subhan Tours & Travel Services Petitioner v. Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 551, Decided On 18.05.2016]

Supreme Court

Supreme Court: While deciding that whether the respondents in the instant case were right in disqualifying the petitioners who are Private Tour Operators, from consideration of their cases for Hajj Pilgrimage 2014 by interpreting clause (iv) and (vii) of Annexure A (Terms and Conditions for Registration of Private Tour Operators (PTOs) for Hajj 2013), the Court held that the disqualification is unacceptable as it is based on the erroneous interpretation the abovementioned clauses.

The clauses (vii) and (iv) respectively stated that the PTOs will have to submit the proofs of payment made through authorized channels for the purposes of tickets and accommodations to PTO Hajj Policy 2014 for a period of 3 years, and the turnover of one year out of the two available Calendar Years of a PTO determining its suitability. The respondent counsel N.K. Kaul, ASG, refuted the contentions of the counsel for the petitioners D.A. Dave who contended that the clauses in question have to be read together for a proper interpretation. 

The Court, on perusing the arguments of the counsels, observed that clause (vii) of Annexure A has not stipulated any period of time during which the requirement contemplated is required to be satisfied by a PTO and this can be understood in the light of clause (iv). The Court concluded that the petitioners have been disqualified on basis of incorrect interpretation. The Court stated that if the Government of India was of the view that clause (vii) had to be understood by reference to a period of three years then they should have approached the Court for an appropriate clarification. Therefore, the Court held that the clauses in question have to be read together as interpreted by the Court and PTO who are found to be eligible for the Hajj 2013 will be considered under the Hajj 2014 Policy.

Jeddah Travels and Jeddah Hajj Group v. Union of India, Writ Petition (Civil) No. 480 of 2014, decided on 07.08.2014 

To read the full judgment, refer to SCCOnLine