KT Jaleel quits Kerala cabinet, days after Lokayukta holds him guilty. All you need to know
Kerala minister KT Jaleel resigned on Tuesday from the Pinarayi Vijayan cabinet, days after the state Lokayukta held him accountable for 'abuse of power' as a public servant to obtain a favour for a relative. The minister's resignation letter has been forwarded to the Kerala chief minister and the governor, PTI reported, citing sources in the chief minister's office (CMO). Simultaneously, the development was also confirmed by the minister himself, in a post on his personal Facebook account.
Jaleel, who held the the portfolios for higher education, minority welfare, Waqf and Hajj, in the Left Democratic Front (LDF)-led ministry, moved Kerala High Court on Monday, seeking a stay on the Lokayukta report which held him guilty of abusing his position of authority. Kerala law minister AK Balan also backed Jaleel on Saturday, according to a PTI report, pointing out that he did not need to resign immediately and has several legal options left, including an appeal at the high court to get the Lokayukta order stayed. However, Jaleel announced his resignation from the Kerala cabinet on Tuesday. ”Those who wanted to suck my blood can rest for now,” KT Jaleel said. Claiming that he was been subjected to an "unjust and constant witch hunt" on part of the "media syndicate", Jaleel wrote on Facebook, "I have handed over my resignation to the chief minister."
Here's the controversy surrounding Kerala minister KT Jaleel:
What are the charges against KT Jaleel?
The chief allegations levelled against KT Jaleel concern the appointment of his cousin KT Adeeb as the general manager of the Kerala State Minorities Development Finance Corporation Limited in 2018. Adeeb, the manager of a private bank when the appointment was made, was allegedly named for his new post flouting all relevant rules.
Although Adeeb was later forced to resign, the Muslim Youth League filed a complaint against KT Jaleel in November that year, alleging 'nepotism' and 'favouritism' on part of the minister in appointing his relative for the post.
Although Adeeb was later forced to resigned, the Muslim Youth League filed a complaint against KT Jaleel in November that year, alleging 'nepotism' and 'favouritism' on part of the minister in appointing his relative for the post.
KT Jaleel was also questioned several times by central agencies in connection with the import of dry dates and holy books. After the gold smuggling case involving the consulate of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) came to light last year Jaleel was questioned by the customs and the Enforcement Directorate on several occasions. Trouble began for him after phone call records of Swapna Suresh, the main accused in the gold smuggling case, were leaked to the media. The minister’s phone number figured prominently in the list.
How did KT Jaleel try to defend the charges?
In his Facebook post on Tuesday, KT Jaleel said that the Muslim Youth League has been "after him" right since 2006, following his win from the Kuttipuram assembly constituency. He also blamed a “media syndicate” for subjecting him to a "witch hunt" over the last several days. This, he said, was the conspiracy of an "anti-leftist alliance" consisting of the Muslim League, Congress, and "right-wing media". Even after three central investigation agencies probed his case, they have managed to find zero evidence of error, he said. "Any investigating agency, including media teams, are still welcome to my home a thousand times more," he said.
After the phone call records of Swapna Suresh was revealed last year, KT Jaleel said that he called Suresh, a consular employee, in connection with Ramadan kits offered by the UAE consulate in the state capital. But the minister’s clarification invited more trouble for him as he was not supposed to accept any funds or freebies without the consent of the ministry of external affairs and experts said it was a clear violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). During the gold smuggling investigation, the customs also found that a heavy consignment came in last March in 31 bags, weighing more than 4000kg and they were taken to Malappuram. The minister later admitted that he took these packets to his constituency but said they were religious books.
What did the Kerala Lokayukta find in KT Jaleel's case?
The Kerala Lokayukta on Friday found the Kerala minister guilty of abuse of power, favouritism and violation of oath of office and ruled that he has no right to continue in the council of ministers. Presided over by Justice Cyriac Joseph and Justice Harun-al-Rasheed, the Lokayukta verdict read, "The action of the respondent (Jaleel) was actuated in a discharge of his function as minister by personal interest to favour his second cousin. It amounted to favouritism and nepotism and also lack of integrity in his capacity as the minister." It also said he diluted qualifications and norms for the post just to favour his kin.