The petitioner Haj Committee of India has been constituted under an Act of Parliament, in order to make arrangement for Indian Pilgrims who want to go on Haj from India to Saudi Arabia. The complainant submitted an application in the year 2008 to the Haj Committee for going on Haj pilgrimage. The applicants had choice of three categories, including ‘Green category’, which was the best of all the three categories, that could be chosen by the applicants. Draw of lots was held to select the pilgrims who could go to Haj pilgrimage. The name of the complainants did not figure in the lottery but later-on, when additional quota was released, their names were selected and they deposited Rs.96,940/- each for the said pilgrimage. Their grievance is that in Saudi Arabia they were not accommodated in green category but were kept in ‘Azizia category’ where the facilities available in green category were not provided. The complainants therefore filed a consumer complaint, seeking refund of Rs.22,362/- alleged to have been collected excess from them.
2. The complaint was resisted by the petitioner who took a preliminary objection that the complainants were not consumers within the meaning of Consumer Protection Act. On merits, it was alleged that by the time arrangements for the complainants and others, who went on pilgrimage under additional quota were made, the rate of Riyal had gone high and as a result, the complainants could not be accommodated in green category, within the amount which they had paid. The case of the petitioners is that on account of the rate of Riyal having gone high, their cost increased to Rs.1,06,742/- as against the amount of Rs.96,940/- which the complainants had paid for being accommodated in green category.
3. The District Forum having dismissed the complaint, the complainants approached the concerned State Commission by way of an appeal. The State Commission allowed the said appeal and directed refund of Rs.22,362/- along with compensation quantified at Rs.10,000/- and cost of litigation quantified at Rs.5,000/-. Being aggrieved the petitioner is before this Commission by way of the present revision petition.
4. A perusal of the green Guidelines for Haj-2008 shows that the Haj Committee was set up under Act No. 35 of 2002 in order to make arrangement for the Indian Pilgrims intending to go on Haj Pilgrimage. Clause 18 of the said guidelines reads as under:
“18. I understand that Haj Committee of India, constituted under the Act of Parliament renders service to the Pilgrims without any consideration. I also understand that the services of Haj Committee of India are free of charge. Haj Committee of India, as such does not come within the purview of Consumer Protection Act of 1986. I therefore, shall not claim any compensation against Haj Committee of India under Consumer Protection Act.”
5. It would thus be seen that the Haj Committee is rendering services without any profit motive and is collecting only the actual expenses incurred by it, on making arrangements for the Haj Pilgrimage. No fee or service charges are being collected by Haj Committee of India from the pilgrims, for reducing its services to them. Therefore, the complainants cannot be said to be the consumer of the Haj Committee of India within the meaning of Section 2(1)(d) of the Consumer Protection Act. Since the aforesaid guidelines are required to be signed by every applicant, the complainants themselves had agreed to the above referred position and accepted that they would not claim any compensation from Haj Committee under the Consumer Protection Act.
6. For the reasons stated hereinabove I hold that the Consumer Forum would have no jurisdiction to entertain a complaint of this nature. The impugned order is therefore set aside and the complaint is consequently dismissed, with no order as to cost. It is however made clear that the dismissal of the complaint will not come in the way of the complainants, availing such other remedy as may be open to them in law, including approaching a Civil Court, for the redressal of their grievances.