A hajj agency must have at least three years of experience as a travel agency to register with the government, and an umrah agency has to have least two, according to the bill
The Hajj and Umrah Management Bill-2021 has been passed in parliament with a provision of taking travel agencies to court for violations in the management of hajj and umrah pilgrimages.
The bill was passed after State Minister for Religious Affairs, Md Faridul Haque Khan, presented the bill on Tuesday.
The state minister first submitted the bill to parliament on 4 April, which was sent for review to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Religious Affairs.
"It [the management of hajj and umrah] was being handled through executive orders, policies, and circulars. We have long felt the necessity for proper laws and regulations on this matter," said the state minister.
"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, with proper rules and regulations," he hoped.
The bill states that the government will form a national committee to oversee and manage hajj pilgrimages. Hajj and umrah agencies will have to register with the committee, adhering to certain conditions.
If an agreement is made in Bangladesh for the hajj journey 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 a hajj agency is found guilty of an offence, its registration will be cancelled and a maximum fine of Tk50 lakh will be imposed. If an umrah agency is found guilty of an offence, it will lose its registration and will be subject to a maximum fine of Tk15 lakh.
Other penalties could include bail confiscation, suspension of registration, warnings and reprimands.
If an agency receives two warnings, its registration will be suspended for two years.
If the registration of an 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 registration entity must also seek approval of the registration authority.