The Haj Committee Act, 2002

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The Haj Committee Act, 2002 was enacted on 11 June 2002 by Parliament on 53rd Year of Republic of India. It was established for all the Muslims of India who were going on Haj pilgrimage and for the arrangements that had to be made for them. Central government can appoint a certain date for the act to come into force in different states.

Section 2 of the Act explains different definitions of the words used under the Act like Bye-Laws, Chief Executive Officer, Committee, Member, Notification, Pilgrim, Prescribed, State Committee, State Government. Chapter 2 of the Act explains about the Constitution of the Haj Committee.  Its headquarters is located at Mumbai. There will be 3 members of parliament who will form part of the committee. There is also a provision for women to become members of the committee. Once the members are nominated their names should be published in the Official Gazette of India by the Central Government. Their term shall be 3 years from the day their name is published in the list of members. A Chairperson and Vice-chairperson is also appointed in the Committee.

Central Government has the power to reconstitute the Committee. A member who is outgoing can be re-nominated in the Committee but not for more than 2 terms. Duties of the Haj Committee has been explained under Section 9 of the Act. First duty of it is to collect information that is necessary for the pilgrims and their training that is required during the travel. Matters like vaccination, issue of pilgrim passes, medical inspection, foreign exchanges are all dealt by Haj Committee. Distressed pilgrims are provided with help by the committee. Approval of Central Government for finalising the Haj plan and air travel of pilgrims are also done by the Committee. General welfare of all the pilgrims going on Haj is dealt with the Committee.

Section 10 of the Act states that at least 3 meetings in a year has to be done by the Committee before the commencement of the Haj season. One-third of its members will form the quorum of the meeting. Section 11 of the Act explains about the appointment of two standing committees by the Committee to deal with finance matters and Haj arrangements and the meeting will be presided by a Chairperson. Even other sub committees can be appointed by the Committee. Disqualification of a person who is not a citizen of India, not a Muslim, less than 25 years of age, or is of unsound mind, is an undischarged insolvent, or is convicted of an offence cannot become a member of the Committee.

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Chairperson, Vice-chairperson can resign from his post or Central Government may remove him if he is not capable of acting or if he does not attend the 3 consecutive meetings of the Committee. Chief Executive Officer shall be appointed by Central Government who shall be the ex-officio secretary of the Committee for a period of 3 years who shall execute the decision of the committee.

Chapter 3 of the Act explains about the establishment and incorporation of the State Haj Committee. Section 18 of the Act explains about the composition of the State committee.  Notification of the members and their term of office is explained under Section 19 of the Act.  Chairperson elected in State Haj Committee shall be for a period of 3 years. State government can reconstitute the State Haj Committee. A person can be disqualified from nomination to be its member, if he is not a citizen of India, not a resident of that state, not a Muslim, or less than 25 years of age or is of unsound mind, or undischarged insolvent or a convicted person.

State Committees duties are to provide assistance to pilgrims with regard to their transportation from home state to the point of exit. State Committee meet twice a year before Haj day. Chapter 4 of the Act states about the Central Haj Fund. Committee can charge for registration of Haj applications, issue Haj passes. Income from deposits or any investment of committee funds, unclaimed sums of pilgrims, any amount received by the committee shall form part of Central Haj Fund.

Section 32 of the Act explains about State Haj fund applications that can be made under it.  Accounts and Audits is also explained under the Act. Every officer of Committee shall be a public servant and no suit shall lie against any Chairperson, Vice- chairperson if anything done by them in the course of their duty under the Act. Section 44 of the Act provides that Central Government has the power to make rules to carry out the purpose of the said Act. Section 52 explains that Haj Committee Act 1959 is repealed.

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by Sushma Javare