Errant hajj agencies to face music
The Hajj and Umrah Management Bill 2021 was passed in parliament yesterday aiming to ensure the smooth performing of hajj and umrah and remove irregularities and mismanagement in the sector.
State Minister for Religious Affairs Md Faridul Haque Khan placed the bill before the house and it was unanimously passed by voice votes with Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury in the chair.
Piloting the bill, Md Faridul said the enactment of the law will help ensure smooth hajj and umrah for the Muslims and bring hajj agencies under a registration process.
"We need a legal structure to deal with hajj management. Without having registration under the proposed law, no one will be able to deal with any haji [hajj pilgrim]. And the registration authorities can take action against irregularities."
According to the bill, the registration of any hajj and umrah agency can be cancelled over anomalies.
Also, a hajj agency can be slapped with a fine of maximum Tk 50 lakh, while an umrah agency with Tk 15 lakh for irregularities, it said.
"If any agency gets a warning for two years in a row, its registration will automatically be suspended for the same period. Also, lawsuits can be filed against criminal offences committed in the hajj and umrah management," according to the proposed bill.
The religious affairs ministry placed the bill before the cabinet following its directives issued in 2012 to enact a law instead of the existing policy, the state minister said.
After the enactment of the new law, if a Bangladeshi gets involved in hajj-related irregularity even in Saudi Arabia, it can be treated as if it had happened in Bangladesh and legal steps, including criminal and administrative actions, can be taken, the bill explained.
Jatiya Party MPs Pir Fazlur Rahman, Shameem Haider Patwary, Raushan Ara Mannan, and BNP MPs Harunur Rashid, Rumeen Farhana, Mosharraf Hossain, and independent MP Rezaul Karim Bablu demanded sending the bill to the committee of eliciting public opinion.
The demand, however, was rejected by voice votes.
Md Faridul said, "A section of hajj agencies used to defraud hajis every year. They would make promises of providing good accommodation facilities and quality food to the aspiring hajis. The hajis, however, alleged that every year many of the agencies did not keep their promises."