The Church of North India’s (CNI) moderator and Jabalpur Diocese’s Bishop PC Singh has been detained on September 12, by the Economic Offences Wing of Jabalpur which a few days ago on September 8, conducted searches at his office and residence and recovered Rs 1.65 crore and $ 18,000 (Rs 14.3 lakh). The EOW Superintendent of Police, Jabalpur, Devendra Singh Rajput told India Ahead that on further scrutiny they have found a total of Rs 2.02 crore worth of Fixed Deposit Receipts, and 174 bank accounts are linked to him. Out of these, 128 bank accounts are those which are either personal or under various organisations he is tied with, and the other 46 are attached to educational institutions.
The EOW had registered a case on charges of cheating against Bishop P C Singh after a complaint against him of financial misconduct in running an educational society, of which he is the chairman. There are however many documents alleging more fraud committed by Singh which will be looked at after the investigation is concluded on the educational institutions and the impropriety of dealings, SP Rajput told India Ahead.
“We have a lot of information, but as the investigation progresses, we will work it out. But our first step is the educational institutions and looking into syphoning of funds from them. And also looking into the source of where the money has come from and where it has been spent. Whatever illegal activities that the money has been spent on will be taken into account and action taken.” The raid that took place in Jabalpur was on the allegation of misappropriation and diversion of Rs 2.7 crore from a school account to the account of the Jabalpur Diocesan Council. “It has been found that money from educational institutions transactions has taken place and gone into personal accounts”, the SP told India Ahead.
A case under IPC sections 420 (cheating), 406 (criminal breach of trust), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating) and 471 (dishonestly using forged documents as genuine) and 120b (criminal conspiracy) has been registered against Singh. The man in question was in Germany during the raid. He returned on Saturday night and the EOW learnt of his planned journey, from Delhi to Bangalore and then to Nagpur where he was detained at Nagpur Airport.
The Income Tax department is now involved in the investigation and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has been intimated, according to the EOW SP to India Ahead. India Ahead was also informed of other land deals that would be under the scanner, with the people privy to the case has written to the authorities. One such case includes a defence land where Christ Church and Vicarage, Pachmarhi built by the British around 1875, was vested in Indian Church Trustees on August 2, 1965. A letter addressed to the Director General Defence Estate, Ministry of Defence from March of 2021 states that the land has been illegally leased out. It specifies that in 1965 the land was given for the “specific purpose of use as Church”.
The property was later transferred by the Indian Church Trustees to CNI. Now the allegation by Bharat Chougule, member of All Saints Cathedral, Nagpur, CNI says that PC Singh “clandestinely had a lease deed executed” on August 8, 2011, whereby the land came to be leased in favour of “Satpuda Resort Pvt Ltd” from the August date until March 31, 2025.
The complaint, shared with India Ahead, cites that Nagpur Diocesan Trust Association (NDTA) is registered under the Bombay Public Trust Act 1950 hence provisions of Section 36(b), which says the following, would apply: “No lease for a period exceeding ten years in the case of agricultural land or for a period exceeding three years in the case of non-agricultural land or a building, belonging to a public trust, shall be valid without the previous sanction of the Charity Commissioner.”
Adding: “The lease of Pachmari Church (Ann.3) and adjoining land is for 14 years, thus the sanction of Charity Commissioner under Sec. 36 (b) was mandatory. Sans approval of the Charity Commissioner U/S 36(b) the lease of 14 years is legally infructuous.” (sic)