The Church of North India’s bishop in Lucknow has been arrested by police after four months on the run.
On 29 July 2022 the Rt. Rev. Peter Baldev was apprehended by Lucknow police and charged in state court with eight counts of forgery, fraud and racketeering. He was booked under Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986 for conspiracy to sell church properties by forging deeds of trust and selling them at below market prices to confederates.
Bishop Baldev’s crimes are alleged to date back to 2015. In a 2017 case the bishop is alleged to have abused his position as chairman of the board of trustees of Bishop Johnson College in Prayagraj – an all boys school owned by the diocese. The bishop is alleged to have forged documents giving him the authority to start a girl’s branch of the school. He, then proceeded to collect $1.6 million in education grants and advanced tuition payments for the school before closing down the scheme and leaving the college liable for the monies received.
In 2019 a complaint was filed against Bishop Baldev and 16 others for allegedly collecting over $126 million dollars for selling church properties without the permission of the diocese or trusts holding the properties, and pocketing the proceeds.
Last year Christ Church College in Lucknow filed a complaint with police stating the bishop had forged documents to show he was the head of the Christ Church McConaghy Society – which owns the school – and then proceeded to raid the bank accounts of the college.
On 9 April 2022 was charged with racketeering and fraud and absconded. The primate of the Church of North India placed Bishop Baldev on leave, and he subsequently disappeared.
His lawyers on 30 June 2022 appeared before the court and sought to have the complaints struck off. After a review of the pleadings and oral argument a two judge bench of Justice Ramesh Sinha and Justice Ajai Kumar Srivastava rejected the bishop’s plea and ordered his arrest.
The bishop has been taken to the Lucknow police station for questioning.
The case continues.