KOCHI: A large consignment of Holy Quran which was shipped into the country from Saudi Arabia will be auctioned here after the importer — an Arabic college in Malappuram — expressed its unwillingness to pay Rs 8 lakh as Customs duty to receive it.
The consignment, weighing around 25,000kg, had landed at the Vallarpadam International Container Transhipment Terminal (ICTT) six months ago. Officers of Container Freight Station MIV Logistics Pvt Ltd, which has come out with a notice to auction the consignment, said though they communicated with the importer identified as Abdul Salam IP, principal of Darul Uloom Arabic College, Vazhakkad in Malappuram, the college expressed its inability.
“We’ve been holding the consignment at our warehouse for the last few months. Now the Customs has given us the clearance to auction it with other items,” said a source at MIV Logistics.
Abdul Salam told TNIE that Holy Quran was imported from Saudi Arabia for free distribution in the state to economically weak believers who lost the Holy Book in flood.
“When we went to accept the consignment, we were asked to pay around Rs 8 lakh as Customs duty for releasing the consignment. We didn’t have that much money and we decided not to accept it. Later the Customs agent informed the unclaimed consignment would be auctioned,” he said.
“The said consignment doesn’t come under any relaxation category and the importer needs to pay the duty as it has to come with a bill of entry,” the officer said adding all imported goods have to go through computerised Indian Customs EDI system which automatically fixes the duty as per the tariff entry of the goods. “As the consignment contains books, it comes under a specific duty slab,” the officers said.
Meanwhile, a committee of evaluators under the Customs has fixed Rs 1 lakh as base price for the consignment at the auction. “Anyone who bids for the consignment for the base price of Rs 1 lakh will win the bid if there is no other higher bidder. We’ve received a couple of enquiries from prospective bidders and e-auction will be held on January 21,” said officers.