The Bombay High Court has directed police to complete their fraud investigation of four Church of North India Bishops accused of selling church lands for their personal profit.
The Bombay High Court has directed police to complete their fraud investigation of four Church of North India Bishops accused of selling church lands for their personal profit. In an order handed down last Justice Naresh Patil and Justice Anuja Prabhudesai complained that the initial complaint had been filed in 2008 and that it was “high time” for the “investigation officer completes the probe.” In 2012 the former Bishop in Pune, the Rt Rev Vijay Sathe was arrested on charges of fraud, forgery and breach of trust for allegedly seeking to sell the Afghan Memorial Church in Bombay to property developers and pocketing the proceeds. The former bishops of Bombay, Pune and Gujarat were also ordered arrested by the court. All have since been released on bail. In a report dated 18 April 2009, VR Patil, the Maharashtra State law and judiciary department’s legal adviser, found that a “bogus” corporation entitled the Bombay Diocesan Trust Association Private Limited had been created to “grab the properties of genuine Christian trusts” — the Bombay Diocesan Trust Association Limited (BDTA) and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG) in the Diocese of Bombay. “The bogus trustees indulged in many illegal activities to grab the property of BDTA Ltd and SPG by taking advantage of the similarity in the name of the bogus trust with the complainant’s trust,” the Patil report said. In 2004 the fake trust sought to redevelop the Afghan Memorial Church – a former Church of Scotland church built to honour the dead of the First Afghan War – prompting lay members of the congregation to go to the police.