KT Jaleel, Kerala Minister for Higher Education, appeared before the Customs Department on Monday, in connection with the alleged violation of protocol in accepting copies of the Holy Quran from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Consulate, sources said. Visuals aired by news channels showed the minister reaching the office of the Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate in Kochi in his vehicle at around noon to appear before the officials probing the case.
Last week, the Customs had summoned Minister Jaleel to appear before it on Monday as part of its investigation into the alleged violation of protocol in accepting consignments of Quran imported by UAE Consulate officials in Thiruvananthapuram for personal use. Minister Jaleel was earlier questioned by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) probing the terror angle in the Kerala gold smuggling case.
He was also questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) in accepting consignments of Holy Quran brought from UAE through diplomatic channels.
The Customs Department has registered two cases in connection with allegedly accepting consignments of the Holy Quran and thousands of kilograms of dates imported by the UAE consulate officials for their personal use through diplomatic channels.
Customs officials alleged that the state government had accepted 18,000 kg of dates imported by the UAE Consulate three years ago for their personal use. They said that government officials accepting the dates and the Qurans for personal use brought by diplomats were a violation of the Customs Act. State officials are not supposed to accept gifts or articles from a foreign government, they further said.
In September, there were a number of protests across the state demanding the resignation of Minister Jaleel. The protests were so crowded that these were later blamed as one of the reasons causing an increase in spread of COVID-19 in the state, without following physical distancing and other preventive measures.
(With PTI inputs)
Watch: September protests demanding Minister Jaleel's resignation turn violent