Cochin Customs will charge customs duties from the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram for copies of the Quran, including those handed over to former minister KT Jaleel, and dates imported into Kerala.

Dr Jaleel had said on Tuesday that he would return the 1,000 copies, which were provided by the consulate, for distribution in the state. The copies were kept in two institutions in Edappal and Alathiyoor.

The consulate of the United Arab Emirates had imported 4,000 copies of the Koran two years ago, not counting the 17,000 kg of dates that were distributed in the state.

The Quran and the dates were brought to Kerala as diplomatic cargo, which are supposed to be used for the personal and official needs of the people of the UAE Consulate.

International Congress

Diplomatic freight is exempt from customs duties in accordance with international conventions. However, it was later discovered that copies of the Quran and dates were being distributed in the state. Once imported goods are found being used by people without any diplomatic privileges, they become taxable, customs officials said.

If the shipments were intended for distribution outside the Consulate, prior authorization from the Central Directorate of Indirect Taxes and Customs had to be obtained and customs duties paid. Customs duties for the Quran and dates would be assessed in accordance with the provisions of the Customs Tariff Law, sources said.

Although the Bill of Entry of the shipment from the UAE port indicated that 4,000 copies had been shipped to Kerala, the total number of copies distributed was unclear.

As the consulate was out of bounds for customs to conduct a search, it would be presumed that all copies were distributed and customs duties were assessed accordingly. The consulate may have to provide explanations for the number of copies in its possession, sources said.

Customs had previously obtained permission from the Union External Affairs Ministry to issue notices to consulate officials demanding the customs duty.

Return of the Quran

Dr Jaleel will have to ask the Ministry of External Affairs or state protocol officer to return the copies of the Quran to the consulate, as an individual cannot deal directly with diplomats from another country, sources said.

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