Thursday, October 16, 2014

Court asks to probe allegations against former Madurai archbishop
The petitioner alleged that a priest had swindled Rs 17 lakh through fraudulent sale of property.
Posted on October 16, 2014, 7:43 AM

Madras High Court on Wednesday ordered the police to file a status report on the complaint against former Archbishop Peter Fernando of Madurai and three other priests on the charge of embezzling public funds by fabricating and forging records and documents. 

Justice R Mala of Madurai bench ordered the report to be filed on the complaint by D Maria Paulrajan, a member of Madurai diocese, on March 26.

The petitioner submitted that the Catholic diocese, is registered under the Societies Act and its objective was to maintain churches, seminaries, missionaries, hostels and boarding houses. 

He alleged that Peter Fernando had diverted about Rs 3.11 crore from the foreign contributions account of the diocese to his personal savings account and had invested the money in Mutual Funds and purchase of property.

Fernando had also started a benefit fund, offering attractive interest to investors. As it ran into trouble, he diverted diocese money to repay depositors, Paulrajan alleged.

Another priest Arockiam, Procurator of Sacred Heart Church allegedly sold 16 cents of church property in Kodaikanal to Maheswari Chellappa through his power agent E Jeyakumar at a cost of Rs Rs four lakh per cent.

He had constructed a commercial building in violation of building rules. The petitioner alleged that Fr Xavier Raj had swindled Rs 17 lakh through fraudulent sale of property and another Rs 5.53 lakh while constructing a church and a school near Srivilliputhur. 

Another priest Peter Kulandai is accused of purchasing land in Ponmeni in Madurai. As per rule whatever property purchased by him should go only to the diocese and not to him.

The petitioner submitted he had issued legal notice for illegal activities of the four proposed accused, but there was no response. Later, when he gave a complaint to the Police Commissioner and Inspector, he was called and threatened to withdraw the complaint on May 8, 2012. 

He then filed a complaint with the Vigilance and anti- corruption police, but no action was taken. He then requested the court to intervene and direct police to register a case on his complaint which attracted various sections of IPC like 403 (dishonest misappropriation of property), 406 (punishment for criminal breach of trust), and investigate it effectively.


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