The Supreme Court today struck down the government's policy of giving subsidies to Haj pilgrims and directed that it be progressively "eliminated" within a period of 10 years.
"We hold that this policy is best done away with," a bench of justices Altamas Kabir and Ranjana Prakash Desai held.
The bench also directed the government to reduce to two the number of its representatives in the Prime Minister's goodwill delegation.
It said it will look into the functioning of Haj Committee of India and it process for selecting people for Haj pilgrimage.
The apex court was hearing an appeal filed by the Centre challenging a Bombay High Court judgement which had directed the Ministry of External Affairs to allow certain private operators to handle 800 of the 11,000 pilgrims earmarked under the VIP quota subsidised by the government.
The bench while hearing the plea of the Centre had expanded the purview of the plea and decided to look into the legality of the government's policy on granting subsidies to Haj pilgrims.