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Bishop arrested over fraud claims

Protestant ex-prelate named in illegal land deal

Former bishop Vijay Sathe of the Church of North India Former bishop Vijay Sathe of the Church of North India
  • Priscilla Pinto, Pune
  • India
  • September 21, 2012
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Police yesterday arrested a prominent retired Protestant bishop after a Mumbai court ordered his remand into custody on suspicion of fraud, forgery and breach of trust related to a church land deal.

Former bishop Vijay Sathe, 65, of the Church of North India (CNI), was arrested at his home in Pune and is to remain in police custody until Monday, pending formal charges.

“The court gave us custody of Bishop Sathe to investigate his involvement in entering into a deal with a building firm,” said S.P. Jagdale, police inspector in charge of the Cuffe Parade police station.

Fraud allegations stem from a complaint filed in 2008 by social activist Cyril Dara over the sale of a plot of land at St. John the Evangelist Church in Mumbai.

The Mumbai High Court this week dismissed a petition to quash the original complaint, which named bishops and priests allegedly involved in the land deal. The petition was filed by Srikant Salve, a trustee of the Bombay Diocesan Trusts Association, and others. Salve was also implicated in the deal and was to have been arrested last week, but has now fled. Police are continuing their hunt for him.

“At least 11 bishops and 12 priests of the Church of North India are involved in this,” Dara has claimed.

Bishop Prakash Patole, current head of the  Church of North India, was unavailable for comment.
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