As directed by the Supreme Court, the Haj subsidy has been gradually reduced since 2013. It has come down from Rs 680 crore in 2013 to Rs 405 crore in 2016.
The Supreme Court, while dealing with the Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 28609 of 2011 vide its judgement dated 08.05.2012, inter alia, observed that Haj subsidy is something that is best done away and directed the Union Government to reduce the amount of subsidy and finally eliminate it.
Haj expenses are incurred due to pilgrims' air travel to Saudi Arabia, their accommodation, travel expenses for visiting Makkah and Madinah and other miscellaneous expenditure.
The Indian government does not extend any direct subsidy to individual pilgrims. However, it provides a certain amount of subsidy to the airlines flying the Haj pilgrims, which is the difference between the airfare fixed through tender and the uniform fare paid by the pilgrims to the Haj Committee of India (HCoI).
Pilgrims pay the HCoI a fixed amount for airfare, and this amount is decided every year. The balance fare payable to the airlines is paid by the Ministry of Civil Aviation as a subsidy.
Going by the statement presented in the Lok Sabha, the gradual reduction in subsidy may see a rise in the airfare for the Haj pilgrimage, but it will not affect other expenses, which are borne by the pilgrims on an actual basis.
In February 2017, the Lok Sabha also provided a cost comparison of Haj expenditure featuring Indian Hajis and pilgrims from other countries who send the largest number pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for Haj.