MP CM Chouhan Says Govt Will Probe if Money Allegedly Misappropriated by Bishop Was Used for Religious Conversion

After the Madhya Pradesh Economic Offences Wing found alleged misappropriation of funds by a bishop in Jabalpur and recovered cash from his house, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said it will be probed whether the money was being used for religious conversion or any other illegal activity.

The EOW conducted searches at the house of P C Singh, the bishop of the Church of North India Jabalpur Diocese, on Thursday morning following registration of a case of cheating against him. The agency had last month registered the case after he was accused of financial misconduct while running an educational society of which he is the chairman, officials have said.

During the searches, Rs 1.65 crore in cash, 18,342 US dollars, 118 UK Pound besides 48 bank accounts and documents of 17 properties among other assets, Chouhan said on Friday following a meeting related to the development.

“Irregularities and frauds have come to the fore on a large scale. The state government will get it investigated whether the money was being used for illegal purposes. It will also be investigated if the money was being used for religious conversions and other illegal works through the trust,” he said.

Chouhan said that there have also been complaints of cheating, tax evasion or misuse of trust by changing the name or rigging in renewal of land lease in the institutions run by the trust. “All these cases are also being handed over to the EOW. Conversion or other illegal activities in the name of religion will not be tolerated at any cost,” the chief minister said.

Officials have said that preliminary investigation in the case had revealed that Rs 2.70 crore collected as fees from students by the society’s various institutions between 2004-05 and 2011-12 were allegedly transferred to religious institutions, misused and spent by the bishop for personal needs.

After the preliminary investigation, a case was registered against the bishop and former assistant registrar of Firms and Societies B S Solanki under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 420 (cheating), 406 (criminal breach of trust), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using a forge document or electronic record) and 120 B (punishment for criminal conspiracy), the EOW officials said.

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