Dodgy hajj agencies to be tried in Bangladesh as parliament passes bill

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Parliament has passed a bill clearing the way for Hajj and Umrah agencies to be tried in Bangladesh for any criminal offence in arranging the journeys to Saudi Arabia.

State Minister for Religious Affairs Md Faridul Haque Khan put forward the ‘Hajj and Umrah Management Bill-2021’ on Tuesday and it was passed by voice vote.

Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury settled the public opinion verification, the committee scrutiny and the amendment proposals before the bill came to a vote, reports bdnews24.com.

The state minister initially brought the bill to parliament on April 4. The bill was then sent to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Religious Affairs for assessment.

“There is currently no statutory law on the management of Hajj and Umrah,” State Minister Faridul said, explaining the need for the law. “It was being handled through executive orders, policies and circulars. We have long felt the need for proper statutory laws and regulations on this matter.”

“Hajj pilgrimages will be faster and more efficient if the responsibilities of Hajj management are made clear to the ministries, departments and other government agencies involved through proper rules and regulations.”

What Is In The Bill?

The bill states that the government will form a national committee to oversee and manage the Hajj pilgrimage.

Hajj and Umrah agencies will have to register with the committee by adhering to certain conditions.

If an agreement is made in Bangladesh for the Hajj trip and the agency cheats its customer in any way, the trial for the crime will be held in Bangladesh.

A Hajj agency must have at least three years of prior experience as a travel agency to register with the government, while an Umrah agency requires at least two, according to the bill.  

If any Hajj agency is found guilty of an offence, its registration will be cancelled and a maximum fine of Tk 5 million will be imposed.

If an Umrah agency is found guilty of an offence, it will lose its registration and receive a maximum fine of Tk 1.5 million.

Other penalties could include bail confiscation, suspension of registration, warnings and reprimands.

If any agency receives two reprimands, its registration will be suspended for two years.

If the registration of any agency is scrapped, none of the agency’s partners or proprietors will be allowed to register a new agency. They will also be barred from involvement in the work of any other agencies.

Any agencies that want to change their copyright must also seek the approval of the registration authority.