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Tamilnadu – Sting operation by VHP exposes largescale corruption at educational institutions run by Tirunelveli Diocese

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Hindu orgs demand takeover of the Diocese properties by the Tamilnadu government

TS Venkatesan

Tamil Nadu. Tirunelveli district secretary of VHP E. Arumuga Kane, in a sting operation, exposed that Sarah Tucker Higher secondary school Headmaster refused to give receipts for donations and wanted only cash payments. This is against the statement of Lay Secretary Vednayagam who claimed that payments were being made through banks. VHP has lodged a complaint to the CEO with video footage requesting him to take action against the school, which is an aided school, collecting funds under various heads from poor parents.

Hindu Munnani functionary and advocate K Kutralanathan demanded takeover of the CSI properties following mass corruption. He questioned the silence of the state government. Just as the governments take over Hindu temple properties, it should acquire the scam tainted CSI properties immediately, he demanded.

Further, a section of the members of Diocese of Tirunelveli, the biggest in Asia, have made allegations to the tune of 100 crores against the incumbent office bearers. It included a former AIADMK MP. They in turn accused the bishop, his wife and his legal advisor of siphoning off over Rs 1.97 crores. Hindu organisation have demanded the government to take over the properties of dioceses like the way Hindu temples were taken over by the government.

A section of the diocese members led by Advocates Baskar Kanagaraj, Joel Hendry and on behalf of Nellai Diocese redemption committee; CSI-Synod administrator Pushpa Raj among others addressed a media conference on 29th July. They said a group of officer bearers, who are in charge of affairs between 23-04-2017 and 22.4.2020 had allegedly embezzled to a tune of 100 crores. They said to administer the diocese efficiently Madras High Court had appointed former Chief justice of Jammu and Kashmir N Paul Vasanthkumar, former HC retired judge P Jyothimani as administrators of the Diocesan Council of Diocese of Tirunelveli and Tinnevelly Diocesan Trust Association (TDTA).

A three member panel has been appointed to look into the allegations and to book them under IPC sections. Once the probe started many moved to other pastorates to avoid getting caught. Irregularities in NGO B Colony pastorate 29 lakh, Thalaiyuthu pastorate 9 lakhs have been found. Several properties of the diocese have been sold illegally. All teachers including college professors were appointed illegally. It was not on seniority basis but after getting money from the candidates. We found a corruption to the tune of 100 crores. There are no proper accounts for Mambazha Sangam, Sthothra Pandigai and others. Likewise college accounts and offerings received from members were not properly accounted for.


In St John’s college, before the current team took over, there was a cash balance of 2.78 crores but now it is only Rs 17,000 plus. Without any proper accounting over 2.70 crore has been swindled. Former committee members including Vednayagam, AIADMK ex- MP and Tirunelveli Mayor, Vijila Sathyanand and Rev. Billy have played crucial roles in these shoddy affairs. They have collected thousands of rupees from students in the name note books, convocation fee and under various heads. Properties can be bought only in the name of bishop or treasure. But they have bought several crores worth properties in the name of Vedanayagam, rev. billy and rev. Peter Devadoss. Staff of John’s College have not been paid salary for the past six months. Teachers working in TDTA run educational institutions are being paid by the state government but the recruitments were done by the diocesan. Nepotism, favouritism and corruption are rampant in postings. We have given complaints to the court appointed inquiry committee led by former Judge Rathinaraj, retired police officer John Nickelson and Jayachandran. We request members of the pastorate to lodge their complaints at any time.

Lay Secretary denies allegations of corruption

Lay Secretary Vedanayagam refuted all the allegations leveled by the Baskar Kanagaraj group saying all are baseless. Talking to media on July 30, he said those who made allegations had no knowledge of the working of the college. He said students were asked to remit money in banks only (This was demolished by a string operation by VHP). All bank accounts are jointly operated and there was no scope for frauds. We deny any irregularities in Jawahar Nagar and Thalaiyuthu pastorates. We carried out maintenance of St John’s College. These allegations were made with an eye on elections. Due to Corona, polls were delayed. If they prove even a cent of land was sold, we will not contest polls and are ready to accept any punishment. Internal audit, pastorate audit and chartered account audits were done as per rules. Pastorate accounts are being checked on a monthly basis. There was no scope for any irregularities during the past three years.

Former bishop JJ Christudoss allowed his legal advisor to collect money from tenants. He without registering to the pastorate, gave a job to his daughter and forged his birth certificate to continue in the bishop’s office till 2020. He still continued to occupy the Bishop bungalow thereby incurring loss to the diocesan. Diocese audit team led by Nallur Annapackiam found Christudoss had siphoned off Rs 1,12,88,031. In Sarah Tucker College at Palayamkottai, his wife Christillata swindled Rs 46,18,227. We represented the court on 24th July seeking action against Christudoss and his wife and directing him to vacate the bishop bungalow. The court had issued an order to probe the same. Annoyed by this, they are coming out with false allegations against us. Christudoss’s legal advisor K Ravichandran Charles too embezzled Rs 38,73,670 which had come out during the audit. Both Christ doss and his legal advisor were operating the bank accounts jointly. Some colleges may face cash crunch as students did not pay fees due to lockdown. We have won polls in 90 pastorates out of 130.

Madras High Court said the executive committee elected in 2017 with bishop J J Christudoss as chairman shall henceforth function under the guidance, supervision and control of the administrators and this will continue for a year. Judge R Mahadevan in his order said “I obverse that the noble object with which the educational and health care institutions were created is being defeated”. TDTA filed an appeal against the single judge order. Disposing of the appeal, a division bench of the Madras HC in last February directed the TDTA to conduct an election at the earliest after April.

According to the CSI web page, “The formation of a tiny congregation at Palayamkottai consisting of just 40 members, the first being Clarinda, was the humble beginning of the Diocese of Tirunvelveli, the biggest in Asia now. Now it has 185 thousand members spread over 107 Pastorates in 736 villages”.

Other allegations of Corruption against CSI run institutions

In a related but a year old scam, Delhi based English daily reported that “TN Medical Education Commission in last August recommended filing of criminal charges against Bishop Rasalam in South Kerala and officials from the Dr. Somervell Memorial CSI Medical college, Karakonam, for selling admission seats to aspiring medical students. Kerala HC Judge P V Kunhi Krishnan in an open court proceedings on 21st July this year said” why is there no investigation against big sharks? The Crime Branch is only after the employees; the lack of action against the main defendant’s is worrying. One to three accused to be investigated immediately”. This hospital and the medical college is run by the South Kerala Diocese of the CSI.

“Ten years ago, a probe by TN CB-CID found Bishop Manickam Dorai and 30 others for misappropriation of several crores. Bishop Dorai was arrested in an alleged assault of a pastor in Nilgiris, the synod kept mum” said a report published in2010 in an English daily. These are only dip scams of CSI run dioceses.

Another financial daily reported in 2016 that National Company Law Tribunal removed all directors and office bearers CSI Trust Association- a Chennai based charity body- following alleged charges of misappropriation. The trust’s total revenue nearly 1,300 crore every year, runs dioceses across 16,000 villages and claims a membership of well over 4 million”.

“The CSI Synod in a reply said” there is no case against the Rev. Thomas K Oomen, presently moderator of the CSI, synod, as to the alleged financial corruption to the tune of 7.95 cr. Regarding Engineering college in Nilgiris district. It also denied that the moderator is also party to multi-crores scam in CSI is equally false and bereft of any basis” reported Anglican Ink.

Allegations of sexual assault against Tirunelveli Bishop

Bishop Rev. Dr. Godfrey Noble (JSM Diocese, Tirunelveli), whose wife and an evangelical preacher Mohan Lazarus (Jesus Redeems) are sisters. Bishop Godfrey had accused him of raping several women including his wife’s sister and collecting money from his followers in lakhs and crores. He even accused him of sexual assaults on women and killing. “He is escaping from crimes with his political connections” he said in a video. This is high time the government stepped in by taking over the properties and order for an impartial probe. Both Lazarus and Noble have filed complaints with police accusing each other.

There were reports of sexual assaults by evangelical preachers. In Last October, Tirupattur based church priest took a minor girl from Thirupattur to Nellai by promising to marry her and sexually assaulted her. He was arrested. The list is exhaustive. Besides, there were cases of sexual assaults on young and boys and girls staying in orphanages run by Christians Tiruvannamalai, Trichy, Kanyakumari and in other places.

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