Gold smuggling: Customs, NIA send summons to state protocol officer seeking explanation
Thiruvananthapuram: The NIA and Customs probing the gold smuggling case sent summons to the state protocol officer to submit all documents relating to diplomatic baggages that reached from UAE within two years. The summons sent by Assistant Commissioner NS Dev directed that the documents must be submitted within August 20.
The NIA official arrived at the Secretariat and handed over the letter in this regard.
These documents are crucial for the probe and denying these or furnishing false information would be punishable as per Indian Penal Code, Customs informed further.
- The copy of protocol manual for clearance of diplomatic baggage
- Copy of exemption certificate issued to UAE Consulate in 2019-’20 and 2020-’21. Details of the person applied and the sanction given
- Copy of the signature of diplomatic officials in UAE Consulate
The probe team is inquiring if there was any protocol violation by Higher Education Minister K.T. Jaleel in the case. Jaleel had received kits for distribution from the UAE Consulate during Ramzan and also copies of the Holy Quran, both of which allegedly are a violation of protocol.
The issue surfaced after the minister said that he was in contact with Swapna Suresh, one of the prime accused in the gold smuggling case, with regard to accepting sponsorship worth Rs 5 lakh from the UAE consulate here for distribution of Ramzan kits in the state.
According to the code of conduct for state ministers, they cannot accept gifts which are valued at over Rs 5,000. Besides, the rules are very clear that all such items should be routed only through the Ministry of External Affairs and not given directly to either state ministers or Union ministers.
Also, Jaleel had accepted that the Holy Quran was transported to Edappal in C-apt vehicle which is also a protocol violation.
At the same time, state protocol officer B Sunilkumar confirmed that summons from Customs was received. He also said that NIA also has sought details. However, he didn’t comment further.