Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Pakistan Supreme Court Takes Action Against Fraudulent Hajj Tour Operators

In Hussain v. State, (Pakistan Sup. Ct., Feb. 27, 2017), the Supreme Court of Pakistan denied bail to defendants charged with defrauding a large number of Muslims seeking to perform Hajj by creating a fake travel agency that absconded with their travel funds. The Court explained:
This nature of frauds have become so common that, every year, before the Hajj Season commences, innocent and rustic peoples are looted by various so called agencies including the unauthorized tour operators, of which judicial notice is required to be taken to curb the increasing menace of frauds practiced in religious and pious matters, therefore, Courts are required to treat these cases differently and such frauds must be brought to halt.
The Court strongly criticized government agencies for failing to enforce the law and "allow[ing] the fraudsters to commit such crimes with impunity." In an attempt to prevent such frauds in the future, the Court ordered the Ministry of Religious Affairs
to update its website in English, Urdu and all local languages, conveniently readable and understandable by the illiterate poor people, showing all the details about the duly approved Hajj & Umrah Tour Operators, warning the public at large that except those mentioned on the website, no other agency or Tour & Hajj Operator is authorized to make booking or collect money for sending people to perform Hajj or Umrah. At the same time, the said Ministry shall give wide publicity to such lists through electronic and print media and also through handbills/notifications in different languages....
The Court also ordered further disclosures to travelers and indemnity bonds by authorized Hajj tour operators.  Today's Express Tribune reports on the decision.