Donations to churches in corrupt hands

    30-Sep-2022   
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Churches in India have been receiving massive donations from Western countries as well as from local Christians. Followers donate money to the churches for social and religious causes as depicted by Christian priests and related Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). But it has been observed that the Christian priests and pastors misused the funds. Even some higher rank priests have been convicted for corruption. A similar case has surfaced in Madhya Pradesh, in which the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) arrested P C Singh, Bishop of the Church of North India (CNI), belonging to Jabalpur Diocese. A cheating case has been registered against him as per police statements to the media.
 
Church donation 
 
Case of misappropriation of funds by Bishop P C Singh
 
The case was surfaced after EOW conducted a raid at the residential premises of the bishop and recovered crores of cash and foreign currency on September 8, 2022. The EOW also raided the office of the Church and recovered documents related to the alleged misappropriation of funds. As a result, Bishop PC Singh has been charged with cheating and engaging in the misuse of funds.
 
The EOW officials stated that the Board of Education Church of North India Jabalpur Diocese chairman Bishop PC Singh forged the documents to change the original name of the educational society and illegally diverted student fees collected by the institution. Preliminary investigations revealed that Singh had illegally transferred around Rs 2.7 crores collected as student fees by the society between 2004-05 and 2011-12 to religious institutions and misused the money to fulfil his personal needs.
 
After a preliminary investigation, on September 12, 2022, the EOW confirmed that it recovered Rs 1.65 crores and USD 18,000 (Rs 14.3 lakh) from Bishop PC Singh’s residence and also found a total of Rs 2.02 crores worth of Fixed Deposit Receipts. The Police officials of EOW said there are around 174 bank accounts linked to him, out of which 128 are personal or under various organizations, linked with him. The remaining 46 are attached to educational institutions. Investigation officer SP Devendra Singh Rajput said that they found money transactions from educational institutions have taken place and gone into personal accounts.
 
Bishop PC Singh allegedly involved in land scam worth thousands of crores
 
In 2019, Bishop PC Singh was found involved in a land scam. It was reported that Bishop Peter Baldev of the Church of North India and his 16 other associates had illegally sold land worth thousands of crores in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh. The FIR was also registered against Bishop Peter Baldev and 16 others, including P.C. Singh.
 
Bishop P.C. Singh is not the only corrupt Christian priest
 
So far, several similar cases against the top Christian priests and pastors have been registered across India. Most lawsuits have been registered in southern States. Some Christian activists also filed complaints against priests and heads of churches regarding the corruption, suspicious transactions of funds and fishy deals of lands that belonged to church Trusts. These activists have been threatened with life also.
 
On August 28, 2022, Bishop John Augustine, a bishop of the Lucknow Diocese belonging to the Church of North India, lodged an FIR alleging an unidentified caller was threatening him with dire consequences if he did not withdraw the cases registered against Bishop Peter Baldev, who was arrested on July 29 for misappropriation of funds and selling church properties in Prayagraj and Lucknow worth some thousand crores.
 
Following is the list of some Christian priests involved in the misappropriation of funds, land scams and other corruption
 
 Sr No Name  Place Short description 
 1Bishop Peter BaldevUttar Pradesh
 
Uttar Pradesh police had registered cases against Bishop Peter Baldev, belonged to Church of North India, for misappropriation of funds and selling church properties in Prayagraj and Lucknow. The case in under investigation.
 
 2Bishop Maipan PaulKhammam District, Telangana
 
Complained was filed against Bishop Maipan Paul for selling the lands owned by the Khammam Diocese to anonymous individuals fraudulently.
 
 3Father Stephen MavelyAssam
 
Assam Police had arrested a Catholic priest Father Stephen Mavely over suicide of a resort owner's due to land dispute and harassment.
 
 4Father Mathew ThakadielKerala
 
Kerala Government had ordered to pay a fine of Rs two million to a Catholic Church Bishop of Thamarassery and parish priest Father Mathew Thakadiel over illegally mining case.
 
 5
Bishop Subodh Mondal,
 
Reverend Newton Parmar
Uttar Pradesh
 
Police had booked Bishop Subodh Mondal, Reverend Newton Parmar, belonging to Methodist Church, under section 406-Criminal Breach of Trust & section 420-Cheating of the Indian Penal Code. The complainant was alleged that said officials fraudulently collected advance from him for selling a Church land.
 
 6Cardinal George AlencherryKerala
 
A seven-member inquiry team was formed to probe the controversial land deals of Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, involving Syro-Malabar Church head Cardinal George Alencherry. The case is under investigation.
 
 7Bishop Rev Timothy Ravinder
Vellalore,
Tamil Nadu
 
Tamil Nadu (TN) Police had registered a case against the bishop, advisor, treasurer and former secretary of the Church of South India (CSI) for allegedly misappropriating Provident Fund of more than Rs 25 crore of the church workers.
 
 8Bishop S.D. DavidTamil Nadu
 
Tamil Nadu Police had arrested Bishop of Advent Christian Church named S.D. David in connection with an Rs 50 crore land scam.
 
 9Bishop A Dharmaraj Rasalam
 
Thiruvananthapuram,
Kerala
 
ED had issued a notice to Church of South India (CSI) Bishop, A Dharmaraj Rasalam, to appear before it in connection with the investigation into corruption allegations at the Church’s Karakonam medical college.
 
 10 Archbishop of Bangalore Peter Machado and Bishop of Mysuru KA WillianKarnataka
 
Former Justice of the High Court of Bombay and High Court of Karnataka Justice Michael F Saldana (Retired) had alleged that the Archbishop of Bangalore Peter Machado and Bishop of Mysuru KA Willian have criminally misappropriated Rs 49.50 crores collected under the head of Coorg Disaster Relief Fund in 2018.
 
 
 
Need to appoint a Government administrator on the Trusts of churches and their institutions in India
 
Like Hindu temples, religious trusts of Christian communities should be brought under the purview of the Government to prevent misuse of funds donated by church followers in India. Most churches have been receiving massive funds from Western countries from respective denominations for their missionary activities under the pretext of social cause. However, it has been observed that due to the sole authority of fund handling, the higher rank priests like bishops, have been found guilty for misappropriation of the funds. No any member of the church has the authority to ask these top rank priests about the fund transactions. If the Church belongs to Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican Head appoints top leadership of these churches and they are loyal to the Vatican head - Pope only. It has also been observed that the Vatican has tried to cover up their priests from any charges. The same has been observed in sexual abuse cases worldwide. To keep watch on their transactions and scrutiny of their financial audits, the appointment of Government administration will be one of the primary solutions to safeguard the donations of the followers received by churches in India.