The Bishop in Phulbani, The Most Rev. Bijay K. Nayak, has been installed as Moderator of the Church of North India in succession to PC Singh, the former Bishop of Jabalpur. Bishop Nayak, who had been deputy moderator of the CNI, was installed at a ceremony at the CNI’s headquarters in New Delhi on 14 Oct 2022. The Bishop in Nagpur, the Rt. Rev. Paul B.P. Dupare was installed as Deputy Moderator and he Most. Rev Dr. P.K. Samantaroy, former moderator of the CNI, was installed as interim general secretary of the church.
His installation follows the defrocking of Bishop Singh and his removal from office earlier that month by the CNI Synod Executive in response to the former bishop’s arrest by the officers of the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Federal Treasury Department on money laundering charges.
Bishop Singh was arrested on 14 Sept 2022 at the Nagpur Airport, Maharashtra, upon his arrival home from Europe following a vacation after the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury by officers of the officers of the Madhya Pradesh Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the state police allege Bishop Singh diverted tuition payments made to diocesan schools between 2004-2005 and 2011-2012 to his own pocket. It is also alleged Bishop Singh is complicit in the fraudulent sale of church land in partnership with the Bishop in Lucknow, the Rt. Rev. Peter Baldev, who was a fugitive from justice for four months until his arrest in July.
Bishop Singh and a confederate, BS Solanki were charged with 84 criminal counts, allegedly violating the Indian Penal Code Section 420 (cheating), 406 (criminal breach of trust), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using a forged document or electronic record), and 120B (criminal conspiracy).
Following his arrest, the police raided the bishop’s office and home and seized approximately ₹16.5 million rupees ($207,000) and $18,000 US Dollars in cash along with smaller amounts of other currencies as well as jewelry. The EOW also said it found evidence of 174 bank accounts controlled by the bishop with deposits ₹20.2 million rupees ($254,000). Deeds to 17 properties held by the bishop or members of his family and nine luxury automobiles were also seized. The large sums of cash prompted the case to be taken over by federal authorities. Since his arrest the bishop has been refused bail and remains in custody.
On 5 Dec 2022 Swarn Singh Dhami of the EOW presented an 8000 page charge sheet detailing the bishop’s alleged crimes. He told the Times of India “The chargesheet runs into more than 8,000 pages. Money has also been transferred from the trust owned by the former bishop to his daughter. A notice is being served to her too in this regard, a sum of around Rs 5 crore have been spent on her medical education.”