Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sign of the Times: CSI Parsonage Raided by Income Tax Authorities

The income tax authorities this morning raided Rev Prince Calvin, the Presbyter of CSI Christ Church at Gandhipuram in Coimbatore and some people close to him. The action followed a complaint filed by CSI member E. Prem Kumar alleging that Rev Calvin had illegally sold a valuable church property and taken a huge amount as black money. The allegation is that the nine cents (roughly 4300 sq ft) property in the heart of Coimbatore, which was donated to the church by its owner some two decades ago with a request an old age home for women be erected on the premises, was sold for crores of rupees and the money not properly accounted for. Only a sum of Rs 1.56 crore was received by the parish from the sale through four cheques (numbers, dates and values of which were provided by the complainant to the authorities) during May and June of 2012.

Strangely around the same time as the four cheques were received, the CSI Christ Church also received Rs 4.1 crore as cash donation from unknown donors. Rev Clavin says he does not know who dropped this money into the donation box kept at the front of the church but that he collected this sum from the box over three months and showed them in the church books as a donation! The allegation is that, given the prevailing prices in the vicinity of the property that was sold, the black component was even larger than the Rs 4.1 crore shown as a donation and that Rev Calvin had personally benefitted from some of the difference. As part of the raids conducted today, a bank locker belonging to Rev Calvin’s wife was inspected but it reportedly showed up only some jewellery.

The complainant Prem Kumar had earlier written to the Moderator requesting him to investigate the transaction reportedly made on behalf of the CSI Trust Association. CSITA Secretary M.M. Philip had also reportedly written two letters to the administrative committee that runs Coimbatore diocese (Rev Calvin is also a member of the administrative committee) seeking details about the property transaction but had not received any reply. Rev Calvin who nurses hopes of becoming the secretary of the diocese when diocesan council elections are held on April 22, 2013 was, according to one source, on an early morning trip meeting voters when he received a call from his wife that the Income Tax authorities had come calling at his parsonage.

Incidentally it was the very same complainant Prem Kumar who lodged a criminal complaint against former Coimbatore Bishop Manickam Dorai for looting the diocese. Not only did Dorai end up becoming the first bishop in CSI’s 65-year-history to be sacked, but his legal troubles continue to mount. Recently the Enforcement Directorate attached a number of properties that had been acquired in the names of Dorai's relatives apparently using stolen church funds (see CSI Breaking News 17 below) .

Pic: Rev Prince Calvin conducting the service at CSI Christ Church , Gandhipuram, Coimbatore

First published by Youth4csi in FB

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