Indian bishop fired for theft

 

Indian bishop fired for theft

Author: 

George Conger

A trial court of the Church of South India (CSI) has found the Bishop in Coimbatore guilty of misconduct and directed he be removed from office and deposed from ordained ministry.
On 9 January 2012 the Moderator of the CSI, the Rt. Rev. S. Vasanthakumar released a letter written to the clergy of the diocese reporting that the synod court had “unanimously passed the sentence that Bishop Manickam Dorai cannot be continued as Diocesan Bishop any longer.”
The “Bishopric of the Coimbatore Diocese has become vacant with immediate effect,” the letter stated, and as per the CSI’s canons, the moderator of the CSI will serve as diocesan bishop until a new bishop is elected.  Bishop Vasanthakumar asked the clergy to “kindly make an announcement of the above mentioned facts during the worship services in your churches” on 15 January.
On 2 July 2010 the executive committee of the CSI’s General Synod placed Bishop Dorai on an indefinite leave of absence and dissolved the diocese’s executive council.  The bishop and his cronies were accused of embezzling diocesan funds and taking kickbacks on construction projects amounting to over £500,000.
An October 2010 report by a fact finding committee led by retired Karnataka High Court Justice Michael Saldhana found evidence of criminal behavior by the bishop.  It said Bishop Dorai had pledged diocesan bank accounts, trust funds and pension funds as collateral for personal loans, sold admissions to diocesan schools, took kickbacks on building contracts and diverted diocesan funds for his personal use.  They found the bishop had authorized the sale of diocesan property to real estate developers at approximately 20 per cent of their market value, in return for what the committee believed were kickbacks from the real estate developers.
“These transactions are not a mere case of mismanagement but point to rank dishonesty and criminality,” the committee said.
On 17 May 2011 the Crime Branch-CID of the Tamil Nadu Police filed a 500 page charge sheet with the Chief Magistrate in Coimbatore, accusing Bishop Dorai, his two brothers, and four other accomplices with defrauding his diocese of over £500,000. The former bishop’s criminal trial is expected to begin later this year sources tell Anglican Ink.
The former bishop’s removal from the ministry must be affirmed by the CSI Synod executive committee, which is scheduled to meet later this month in Kanyakumari.  However, his dismissal has already been enforced.  When the former bishop attempted to enter last week’s meeting of the CSI General Synod, he was ejected.
Should Bishop Dorai seek a civil injunction to block his removal, the CCC – a lay anti-corruption advocacy group in the CSI – reports the “CSI Constitution states in Rule 28 of Chapter XI on ‘The discipline of the church and settlement of disputes’ that ‘No decision or judgment of the Court of the Synod shall be subject to appeal or revision by any person or court outside the Church of South India.’ Were Bishop Dorai to challenge his dismissal before the Madras High Court it would be interesting to see how this provision holds up as it appears to be prima facie in violation of the Indian [civil] Constitution.”