A Day After EOW Raids Jabalpur Bishop, CM Shivraj Orders Probe into Financial Irregularities in Churches

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A day after Madhya Pradesh’s Economic Offences Wing (EOW) conducted searches at the residence and office of Church of North India Jabalpur Diocese’s bishop P.C. Singh in connection with a cheating case that led to the disclosure of large-scale financial irregularities, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Friday ordered a probe into the activities of the concerned church and related trust headed by the accused Bishop.

Talking to the media on this issue, Chouhan said that massive financial irregularities on multiple counts have come to the fore after the EOW action.

Chouhan said that the EOW search has resulted in the seizure of huge volume of cash, including foreign currency, documents pertaining to 17 properties, 48 bank accounts and eight four-wheelers.

“We’ve decided for a three-pronged probe into the entire matter. There is a possibility of the funds being invested in illegal activities, including illegal religious conversion by the Church of North India and the associated trust and entities. The EOW will conduct a detailed probe into this serious issue, while the Jabalpur district administration too will have its own role in the probe,” Chouhan said.

“The EOW and the district administration will also investigate complaints about land leased by the government to the trust and associated entities for religious, educational and medical purposes, actually being used for commercial purposes,” the CM added.

The Chief Minister further said that there have been complaints about taxes and stamp duties being evaded on a large scale by the trust and related entities in matters related to land lease renewal and related aspects through cheating and fraud.

Sources told IANS that the EOW had in 2015 received a complaint which alleged that bishop P.C. Singh, who is also the chairman of the Board of Education Church of North India Jabalpur Diocese, has siphoned off fees collected from students of the educational institutes (run by the Board) to religious entities as well as for his personal usage. It was also alleged that Singh had changed the name of the original society and became its president thereafter.

During the EOW probe into the complaint, it was prima facie established that around Rs 2.70 crore had been siphoned off to religious entities and personal use between 2004-05 and 2011-12.

Based on the findings of the probe, a case was registered some weeks back against Singh and B.S. Solanki, who was then assistant registrar of the firms and societies.

Singh, who is reportedly in Germany currently, is accused in several criminal cases, particularly of fraud, cheating and forgery in various parts of India, including UP, MP, Maharashtra, Punjab, Jharkhand and Rajasthan.

MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan review flood situation with DGP and cabinet colleagues.
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