New Delhi: After resistance from rights body for disabled on discriminatory provisions of the newly proposed Haj eligibility rules, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, today held a meeting with the rights body and agreed to amend Haj rules to avoid violation of disability rights.
V Muralidharan, General Secretary of National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled told News18 that after Naqvi met them today morning, he not only assured of amendments but has also taken down the eligibility criteria from the website.
"The Minister agreed to suitably amend the Haj rules so that the Disability Act is not violated. The Minister also pointed out that the clause, on ‘persons whose legs are amputated, who are crippled, handicapped, lunatic or otherwise physically/mentally incapacitated’ are ineligible to apply for Haj, has been removed from the guidelines uploaded on the website of the Haj Committee of India," said Muralidharan.
The website informs that “This clause of eligibility is under review”. Naqvi has also assured the delegation for the rights of the disabled that “corrective action” will be taken.
In a letter dated, December 27, the group had expressed strong reservation against the terminology used to denote persons with disabilities and called it "abusive and derogatory in nature."
In addition to this, the group highlighted the clause, "those afflicted with polio, tuberculosis, congestive cardiac & respiratory ailment, acute coronary insufficiency, coronary thrombosis, mental disorder, infectious leprosy, AIDS or any other communicable disease / disability, as not allowed to perform Haj," as the one which can be used to ban any disabled person from undertaking the Haj.
They had claimed that "all these provisions are in violation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 which has equality and non-discrimination as its guiding principle".
The decision to amend the Haj rules also comes close on the heels of the Delhi High Court issuing the notice to the Centre on a plea to quash new Haj policy that debars differently-abled people from undertaking the annual pilgrimage.
On January 3, the petitioner, advocate Gaurav Bansal alleged that some provisions of the new policy violated Articles 14, 21 and 25-pertaining to equality and freedom to practice religion of the Constitution.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Hari Shankar issued a notice to the Ministry of Minority Affairs, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and the Haj Committee of India asking them to file their response on the matter by April 11.