POST TIME: 9 December, 2016 00:00 00 AM
Hajj pilgrims can avail any airline: SC

Hajj pilgrims can avail any airline: SC

The Supreme Court’s Appellate Division yesterday upheld a High Court verdict that had cleared the way for Hajj pilgrims to choose any airline while travelling to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj. A four-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha, rejected the appeal filed by the government challenging the High Court verdict.
On April 24, 2013, the ministry of civil aviation and tourism decided that only Biman Bangladesh Airlines and Saudi Airlines would carry Hajj pilgrims. On July 29, 2013, Abdul Kabir Khan, proprietor of Al Mahmud Travels and general secretary of Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh (HAB) and Rezaul Islam, a pilgrim, jointly filed a writ petition with the High Court challenging the government decision.
On February 20, 2014, in a verdict, the HC bench comprising Justice Salama Masud Chowdhury and Justice Md Habibul Goni, declared illegal the government’s decision which said that the Hajj pilgrims could fly only with two airlines, Biman Bangladesh or Saudi Arabian Airlines. It also ordered the government to allow hajj pilgrims to fly by any airline to perform Hajj in Saudi Arabia.
However, the government moved the apex court against the High Court decision.
After hearing the government’s appeal, the top court yesterday dismissed the government’s plea.
Later, Mahbub Shafique, counsel for the petitioners, told reporters that there was no legal bar now for Hajj performers to choose any airline following the apex court order. Abdul Kabir Khan, one of the petitioners, told reporters that there was a syndicate for air tickets following the government’s decision to ferry Hajj pilgrims only by Biman and Saudi Arabian Airlines.
Passengers had to pay more money for tickets and the Hajj performers had to wait from 30 to 45 days for the flights as they had to depend only on the two airlines. Now, a Hajj pilgrim could save at least Tk. 15,000 from air tickets as he or she could buy tickets from any airline in the competitive market, he added.