Has the Upcoming Moderator Election Influenced the Filing of Two Criminal Complaints by the KCD?

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In the space of less than one month the Karnataka Central Diocese (KCD), acting on behalf of the Church of South India Trust Association (CSITA), has lodged two criminal complaints against the same set of persons. The first complaint dated 15/10/2019 was lodged with the Ulsoor police station in Bengaluru and the second dated 13/11/2019 in the police station in Chikkaballapur, about 55 kms from Bengaluru. In both these, the KCD has accused one John S. Dorai, Thyagaraja, Jeevan Stephen and “others” of attempting to illegally transact prime CSITA property in Bengaluru and Chikkaballapur. Both complaints have resulted in FIRs and at least one arrest has been made.

At Youth4CSI we have criticised John Dorai and his associates (See our Jan 23, 2019 post “Are those claiming to be the fence now eating the crop?”) for attempting to lease out CSITA property in Mysuru and elsewhere. We are not convinced of the argument put forward by Dorai and his supporters that leasing was a strategy to prevent illegal sale of these properties by those in power or by the ruse used of depositing a part of the lease proceeds in official CSITA accounts to make it appear the transactions are above board. That said, the two recent police complaints lodged by the KCD Secretary Rev Paul Dhanasegaran, a close associate of Bishop P.K. Samuel, raise many troubling questions as to their timing and real intent.

We are attaching below the police complaint lodged by the KCD three weeks ago about the Chikkaballapur property transaction that we at Youth4CSI first reported on a month ago. See. https://www.facebook.com/youth4csi/posts/2305629669560262 The following are some of the issues thrown up by that complaint filed by KCD which also contains information on the other complaint filed a month earlier:

1) Pg 2 of the complaint reveals that a “bogus lease agreement” on the No 4 M.G. Road property (seen in picture) was executed on 3/2/2018. It also reveals that the CSITA had officially requested the KCD to lodge a criminal complaint on 22/11/2018. Yet the complaint in the 4 M.G. Road matter was lodged only a year later on 15/10/2019 as revealed in the letter. Why such an inordinate delay and why now?

2) Pg 2 of the complaint also states that the GPA given by John Dorai was dated 22/10/2018 but the No 4 M.G. Road bogus lease agreement was dated 3/2/2018. So how could the two be connected? In fact there is no connection between the two as the 22/10/2018 GPA (also attached below) was not only executed eight months after the alleged bogus lease on 4 M.G. Road property but was valid only for a very limited period from 22/10/2018 to 20/11/2018 (see pg 3 of GPA). It seems the purpose of this GPA was only to register the lease on a CSITA property in Mysuru which was done on 14/11/2018. So how could this date-limited GPA have been used to execute the agreements on either the No 4 M.G. Road or Chikkaballapur properties? Surely the beneficiaries of those agreements would have objected had this been the case.

3) While the complaint of 15/10/2019 makes the lessee of No 4 M.G. Road property K. Abdul Nazar a co-conspirator and accused with Thyagaraja and others, the complaint of 13/11/2019 gives a clean chit to the Chikkaballapur agreement beneficiary M/S M.S. Ramaiah Developers & Builders Pvt Ltd. This is all the more strange as this company is cited in the complaint letter as a “long-time tenant” of another landmark CSITA property in Bengaluru and would surely have known about who the real powers in the CSITA-KCD were or would have at least made a phone call to confirm. In any case why Is the KCD giving the builder a clean chit in advance in its complaint when it is actually the job of the police to do so after due investigation?

4) Youth4CSI understands the Chikkaballapur case has been transferred to the Ulsoor police station for it to be clubbed with the investigation into the earlier complaint since the accused persons are the same. Incidentally the Ulsoor police station is located a few hundred metres from where the KCD Bishop’s House is located and has been often called on to settle various issues.

Now here is why the timing of the two complaints become important. As we reported last month, Bishop P.K. Samuel is one of three bishops vying to become Moderator of the CSI in Synod polls in January 2020. The leading contender for the post currently is Bishop Dharmaraj Rasalam of South Kerala Diocese. Bishop Rasalam was in the running for the job in 2017 itself when he was persuaded by fellow bishops to make way for Bishop Thomas Oommen of Madhya Kerala Diocese. Oommen, it was argued then, had, due to the retirement age being 67, only one chance to become Moderator while Rasalam could stand again in 2020. Besides, Oommen was the Deputy Moderator at the time.

Given Rasalam’s seniority and the apparent “promise” held out to him in 2017, Bishop Samuel has to do something significant if he has to negate this advantage that Bishop Rasalam currently enjoys. John Dorai has long been a thorn in the side of the CSI bishops and sending him to jail (the Bengaluru police are still actively looking for him) will go down well with Samuel’s fellow bishops. At least that could be the thinking behind the first complaint that was lodged on the eve of the Moderator’s elections and a full one and half years after the alleged No 4 M.G. Road property lease was executed.

As per the 2016 CSI Constitution the Bishops’ Council meeting on the first day of the Synod session is to agree (either unanimously or by two thirds majority) on one name for Moderator and another for Deputy Moderator which then have to be ratified by a majority affirmative vote of the Synod. If the bishop nominated for Moderator/Deputy Moderator does not get a majority or if the Bishops’ Council fails to propose one name, the Council will choose two names by secret ballot and the Synod will elect one of them by simple majority. This is very different from the system prevailing pre-2016 where whichever bishop who wanted to become Moderator could directly take his campaign to Synod voters. Since all three Moderator contenders this time have only one shot at the post before they retire, the competition to be the name put forward by the bishops or to be among the two chosen by secret ballot will be intense come next month. And in such a scenario expect all three candidates to pull out all stops.