MADURAI: The Madras High Court bench here has directed the Madurai City police to file a status report on the complaint preferred against the then Archbishop of Madurai Arch Diocese, Peter Fernando, for allegedly committing financial irregularities.
A Theni resident D Maria Paulrajan moved the court alleging that the Archbishop had opened a bank account under the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act through Indian Bank and illegally transferred money from it to his personal savings account. He had allegedly invested money in mutual funds and real estate. Besides, in 1992, the Bishop had established a non-banking finance company - Maria Grace Benefit Fund Limited and collected deposits from the public using the premises of the institution owned by the RC Diocese. Subsequently, the diocese’s funds were diverted to the company to pay depositors without any proper accounts.
The petitioner contended that under existing bye laws and objects of the diocese it is not permissible for a clergy to hold any position in a finance company which is run on profit motive. Pointing out several such misappropriations, the petitioner had lodged a complaint with the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption and the Madurai Police Commissioner seeking action against the Bishop.
However, the police failed to take action despite being given proof.
Stating that his complaint prima facie discloses cognizable offenses under Section 406, 403, 408, 409, 420, 465, 468 of IPC and Sections of the Religious Institutions (Prevention of Misuse) Act including Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, the petitioner sought a direction to the City Police to register a FIR based on his complaint.
Hearing the plea, Justice R Mala directed the Madurai police to file a status report on the complaint.