A 54-year-old Maldivian pilgrim from Baa Atoll Eydhafushi passed away on Tuesday night (July 15) while performing the Umra pilgrimage in Mecca, local media reports.
According to the Islamic Ministry, the pilgrim was with the Sisilfaru Hajj and Umra Group and was buried in Mecca yesterday.
The High Court has overturned a lower court’s ruling on the Hajj quota controversy, in which the Civil Court ordered the Islamic Ministry to reevaluate several unsuccessful bids presented by local Hajj groups offering pilgrimages this year.
The Maldives’ quota of 874 pilgrims was divided among eight companies selected by the Islamic Ministry, while the tenders of Al-manasik Private Limited, Al-fathuh Hajj And Umra Group, Al-Safa Private Limited, Classic Hajj and Umra Private Limited were dismissed.
The Islamic Ministry previously told local media that the proposals were rejected because they had not followed the procedures, but were at first accepted by mistake and later dismissed when the ministry realised the proposals were not compliant.
The High Court ruling issued yesterday stated that if people were allowed to do things in violation of procedures, this would make way for corruption.
High Court Judges Abdul Gany Mohamed, Abdulla Hameed and Shuaib Hussain Zakariyya presided over the case and the bench was chaired by Judge Abdul Gany Mohamed.
The ruling of Abdul Gany dissented from the ruling of the other two judges, which formed the majority opinion.
On April 16, the Civil Court ordered the Islamic Ministry reevaluate the proposals of four groups it previously rejected from arranging Hajj pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia this year for Maldivians.
The lawsuit was first filed at the Civil Court by Almanasik Hajj Group, AlFath Hajj And Umra Group, Alsafa Hajj Group, Classic Hajj and Umrah Group.
Performing the annual Hajj pilgrimage at least once in a lifetime is one of the five pillars of Islam.
Interpol has issued a red notice to apprehend 42 year-old Ismail Abdul Latheef, the head of the ‘Maleesha Hajj and Umrah Group’ who is being sought on suspicion of fraudulently collecting funds from Hajj pilgrims.
According to local newspapers, the company’s office remained closed and the contact numbers given to the persons who paid are not in use. Clients of the company have no hope of getting to Mecca this year, according to reports.
Police Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef told newspaper Sun that police had given Interpol information about Latheef two days ago.
The owner of the business allegedly collected MVR 68,000 (US$4400) from 175 persons who wished to go to Mecca this year to fulfill the Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.
Based on this amount, Latheef is thought to have fraudulently obtained up to MVR 11.9 million (US$77,0000).
Police have previously said that attempts are ongoing to locate and summon Latheef for investigation.
According to police, Latheef’s whereabouts are unknown. It was possible that he had fled the country, they stated.
Authorities have claimed that 52 complaints have so far been received over alleged payments made to the Maleesha Hajj and Umra Group.
Some people who paid to the company have also complained at different media outlets.