Row over UAE food kits getting shriller

The controversy regarding the acceptance of food kits from the UAE consulate here for distribution to needy families during Ramzan appeared to get shriller on Thursday.

The political wrangle also seemed to get closer to the government with Kerala Lok Ayukta Cyriac Joseph and Upa Lok Ayukta A.K. Basheer issuing notice to K.T. Jaleel, Minister for Higher Education, Welfare of Minorities, Wakf, and Haj pilgrimage.

The judges said they were not inclined to admit a complaint that Mr. Jaleel had misused his position as a public servant and unauthorisedly and unlawfully received a foreign contribution from the UAE consulate.

They were also not predisposed to investigate the petition that the Minister had violated the provisions of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act without allowing Mr. Jaleel to respond to the accusations.

Hence, the judges ordered that Mr. Jaleel submit copies of “all the communications between the Minister and Consul General or his office in connection with the distribution of the food bags” as part of their preliminary investigation into the matter. An Indian Youth Congress leader had filed the complaint.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) attempted to politicise the issue. Its State president K. Surendran said Mr. Jaleel had lost the right to hoist the national flag in Malappuram district during Independence Day because he had accepted a largesse from the UAE consulate without Customs approval or Central government clearance.

Mr. Jaleel told The Hindu that he had acted within his constitutional bounds as Minister. He had received 32 packets containing copies of the Koran from the consulate. “If the State Protocol Officer says I have violated the diplomatic etiquette, the holy books will be returned to the UAE consulate. The packets remain unopened and can be inspected by any agency.”

The diplomatic mission had imported it with the prior approval of the Customs Department and the Union Ministry of External Affairs, he said. He had transported the books to Malappuram for distribution in a government vehicle carrying study material without imposing any additional cost on the exchequer.

Mr. Jaleel said he had also accepted provision packets from the consulate for distribution to needy families during Ramzan as Minister for Minority Welfare and Wakf.

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Printable version | Oct 1, 2020 6:12:44 PM |

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