New Haj Policy - Delhi High Court issues notice to central government

The Delhi High Court has issued a notice to the Centre on a plea which has sought that has challenged parts of the new Haj policy barring the disabled from going on the annual Haj pilgrimage.

Centre directed to respond to High Court notice by 11 April

The High Court bench has asked the Ministry of Minority Affairs, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and the Haj Committee of India on the petition and asked them to file a reply by 11 April.

The plea says that some rules of the new policy violate Articles 14, 21 and 25, pertaining to equality and freedom to practice religion under the Indian Constitution.

The New Haj Policy of Haj Committee of India Pilgrims for Haj 2018-2022says that any Indian citizen who is a Muslim 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/mentally incapacitated".

The plea says that these provisions "blatantly discriminate" against persons with disabilities and violate the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. It also said that the provisions were "arbitrary, discriminatory and highly irrational and inconsistent with the Disabilities Act, 2016."

"Provisions are "arbitrary, discriminatory and highly irrational and inconsistent with the Disabilities Act, 2016" - Petition challenging New Haj Policy

The policy also bars people with polio, congestive cardiac, tuberculosis, respiratory ailment, acute coronary insufficiency, coronary thrombosis, mental disorder, infectious leprosy, AIDS or any other communicable disease or disability also from going on the Haj.

Under the RPWD 2016, the number of disabilities was raised from seven to 21. The newly-added types of disabilities include mental illness, autism, spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, neurological conditions, etc.

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