SC strikes down Haj subsidy, to be eliminated within 10 years

The apex court while striking down the policy to provide subsidy to Haj pilgrims asked the government to eliminate this policy within next 10 years

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down the Indian government's policy of giving subsidies to Haj pilgrims and directed that it be progressively "eliminated" within a period of 10 years, reports PTI.

"We hold that this policy is best done away with," a bench of justices Altamas Kabir and Ranjana Prakash Desai held.

The bench also directed the government to reduce to two the number of its representatives in the Prime Minister's goodwill delegation.

It said it will look into the functioning of Haj Committee of India and its process for selecting people for Haj pilgrimage.

The apex court was hearing an appeal filed by the Centre challenging a Bombay High Court judgement which had directed the Ministry of External Affairs to allow certain private operators to handle 800 of the 11,000 pilgrims earmarked under the VIP quota subsidised by the government.

The bench while hearing the plea of the Centre had expanded the purview of the plea and decided to look into the legality of the government's policy on granting subsidies to Haj pilgrims.


Uproar over Chidambaram's alleged role in Maxis-Aircel deal

BJP and AIADMK members, displaying copies of a local English daily which carried a report on the Home Minister's alleged role in the telecom deal, shouted slogans demanding resignation of Chidambaram

New Delhi: Opposition BJP and AIADMK on Tuesday created a storm in the Parliament over the alleged role of Home Minister P Chidambaram in the with Lok Sabha being adjourned till noon and Rajya Sabha twice during Question Hour, reports PTI.

The Lok Sabha also witnessed protests by Congress members over the death of a farmer allegedly in police firing in Bareli town of Madhya Pradesh yesterday.

As soon as Speaker Meira Kumar welcomed a delegation from Saudi Arabia and read out an obituary reference over the demise of former member Teklal Mahto, Congress members started raising slogans against the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in Madhya Pradesh over killing of the farmer.

When BJP members raised the issue of alleged role of Mr Chidambaram in the Maxis-Aircel deal, they were supported by members of AIADMK who rushed to the Well raising slogans.

The din forced Ms Kumar to adjourn the House for an hour till noon.

Rajya Sabha witnessed similar scenes soon after Pradeep Kumar Balmuchu (Congress) took oath and the House mourned the death of former member Patitpaban Pradhan.

BJP and AIADMK members, displaying copies of a local English daily which carried a report on the Home Minister's alleged role in the telecom deal, shouted slogans demanding resignation of Chidambaram.

Tapan Kumar Sen (CPI-M) said he has given a notice for suspension of Question Hour to raise the issue of "US interference" in India's internal affairs. "They are dictating our oil imports," he said.

Chairman Hamid Ansari asked members not to display newspapers and to resume their places so that Question Hour could be taken up. "You can't be heard," he said, as Sitaram Yechuri (CPI-M) stood up to make a submission. "I can't hear anything. You take it up at appropriate time," Mr Ansari remarked.

M Venkiah Naidu (BJP) said Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley wanted to make a statement. But Mr  Ansari said "he hasn't asked for the floor."

As members shouted "Chidambaram istifa do (Chidambaram resign)", he adjourned the House for 10 minutes.

When the House reassembled, Mr Ansari welcomed a parliamentary delegation from Saudi Arabia seated in the special box.

Soon, BJP and AIADMK members were on their feet shouting slogans against Mr Chidambaram and the government. Mr Ansari then adjourned the House till noon.


Personal Finance Exclusive
IRDA consumer education website: Real or surreal?

IRDA has launched a new website to educate and protect you. It wants you to live worry free. While the initiative is laudable, taking the contents as gospel may lead to disappointment

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority’s (IRDA) newly launched consumer awareness website will certainly make a novice familiar with the vast and complex insurance field for buying insurance, making a claim, registering consumer complaints, different initiatives already in place and in the pipeline to protect consumers, handbook, FAQs and so on. The content will educate consumers on the numerous aspects that are not available in the regular IRDA website

The IRDA’s mission given in bold is ‘Your Protection’. On different pages of the new website it makes bold proclamations like ‘Live worry free’, ‘Use your right to know’, ‘Simplifying life’ and so on. Take it with a pinch of salt as there is no smooth sailing in the insurance waters. If you have any issue with an insurer company, be prepared for a prolonged fight. What you read on the consumer education website may not always reflect the reality on the ground. Here are some hiccups in the system.

• Grievance redressal – An insurance company has to deal with a consumer complaint within 15 days. The website says that if you are not happy with the insurance company’s grievance redressal, you can approach IRDA by various ways. It conveniently does not give any time limit for IRDA to resolve your problem even after launching of the new Integrated Grievance Management System (IGMS). What happens after you approach IRDA? They will forward your complaint back to the insurance company. Your hope of getting any justice is really from the insurance ombudsman or consumer court, not IRDA.

• Making a claim – The content tells you about reading the clause relating to claims in your policy document. The ‘Protecting you’ section of the website says that IRDA has advised insurance companies to not reject claims mechanically on ground of delay in hospitalization intimation or claims submission. It may give you a false sense of security, but rampant rejection of claims continues unabated by some insurers through TPA (third part administrator) services even for genuine delays. The TPA sometimes denies getting intimation on time. Some insurers do not have 24X7 customer care to receive intimation and give you any confirmation number for receipt. Ironically, the customer ends with rejected claims and company gets the insurer of the year award. Justice will be given if you are willing to fight and wait for almost one year to get an ombudsman hearing.

• Renewability of health insurance – The website states that “There has been some concern among consumers, especially senior citizens, about insurance companies turning down the renewal of health insurance policies. IRDA has stipulated that a health insurance policy should always be renewed except if there has been fraud, moral hazard (intentionally taking an insurance policy in order to make a false claim) or misrepresentation.” This will also give a wrong impression to you about lifelong renewal unless you read the IRDA guidelines on the same. It only expects “disclosure of the maximum age up to when the renewal would be available.” Does than tantamount to lifelong renewal? No. Recently, a Moneylife reader approached us stating that Reliance General refused to renew her father’s policy when he turned 81 years. The Reliance General Life Insurance’s letter states “We do not have any other approved product variant which can provide health insurance cover to a person aged above 80 years.” You are stuck with the ‘file and use’ of the product which was approved by IRDA. If it has limit for age, you may not be offered renewal except for a case-to-case basis in which the insurer feels the risk is low for them to underwrite your health insurance.

• Claims turn around time (TAT) – The framework given under ‘Consumer Complaints’ clearly state that TAT for general insurance claims is 75 days. It is not adhered to in many cases and no penalty paid for delays. Even simple claims for cataract can take over six months to be settled. At times, frivolous questions are sent by a TPA to the doctor or the hospital with no copy to the policyholder and then unceremoniously the claim file is closed for no response. Why does the TPA not send copy of the queries to the policyholder? Only the final letter for closing the case is sent to policyholder. TAT is applicable to you for your response (even if you don’t get any correspondence); no TAT is applicable for TPA or insurer. A TPA can sit on the funds made available from insurer for a long time before clearing your claim and that too if he want to.  

• Health insurance portability wordings may give the impression that No-Claim-Bonus (NCB) is portable. Despite the vague wordings in the guidelines, NCB is not portable. You will pay premium for the Sum Insured (SI) that was ported, irrespective of whether it included any increased SI as NCB (over and above the base SI) for which your existing insurer does not charge, but the new insurer after porting will.  

• The 2010-11 non-life grievance analysis shows that 94% of the grievances have been resolved while life grievance analysis shows that 98% have been resolved. Do not interpret resolved cases meaning that the insured got their way. It can also mean that the insured has given up the fight or moved the fight to the ombudsman/consumer court after the insurer unsatisfactorily closed the case. IRDA should come out with 2011-12 statistics as they have IGMS in place. With insurers rejecting claims mechanically with stringent timelines, the numbers are bound to show high number of pending claims.




4 years ago

education is basis of removal of ignorance & establishing trust.
very positive step in right direction.
by the web site , the whole country,insureds & insurance seekers spread in small towns & villages (with no electricity, computers & internet) will rejoice at the facility down.The information may be sent to Finance ministry
A series of good articles/chat in media -print/ visual in vernacular languages may also be suggested

Dr Vaibhav G Dhoka

4 years ago

Consumer proection website or portal as brought out by IRDA,is a gimmick.In India most of the government sponsered site are defunct and are never in interst if citizen.Such site are excuses.


Harish Shah

In Reply to Dr Vaibhav G Dhoka 4 years ago

Such WEB sites are just to show that IRDA is all out to protect the interest of POLICY HOLDERS. The catch here is only the grieving policy holders can make a complaint. An agent or any person on behalf of the Policy Holder cannot make a complaint. Perhaps the staistic obtained by IRDA must be that 80-90% of policy holders owns a computer and knows how to surf the web. Let us ask IRDA the staistics of number of complaint received and attended to the satisfaction of policy holders. All that I heard was IRDA forwards the complaint to H.O. of insurance Co., H.O.forwards it to R.O. in that area. Down the line everyone sleeps over the complaint as IRDA do not give time limits to reply back to them as to what has happened to the complaint. In fact IRDA asks the policy holder to follow up with the insurance co. and inform them.

Gopal chettiar

4 years ago

I want to have Life Insurance Policy and
Medical Policy with the PACL Limited.
Can you please inform me, that is this
Company(PACL Limited) is registered
with IRDA.
Yours Sincerely


4 years ago

The concept of insurance in India is still not clear though Insurance industry in India is 150 years old .The insurers and the advisors do not sell proper plans essential to their customers instead tryto collect more money by way of premium and project insurance as in investment in case of Life Insurance. Life Insurance is an instrument first to provide financial security to the dependents and providing for reirement income Other need like education and marriage of children. Family protection should be done by only term assurance where the premium is nominal and one can take a life cover of 15 to 20 times of their annual inmcome.Ohter plans are not suitable as the premium is very large Life cover can be done by term insurance @ Rs.5/- per 1000 per annum ( variable according to the age of the insured )endowment assurance cost 50 to 75 rupees per thousand per annum depending upon the age and duration of the plan

therefore full cover cannot be affordable by such plans
Unit linked plans are the last to be taken as they are investment oriented and the life cover insufficient.

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