Kochi: The Income Tax Department has imposed a fine of Rs 3 crore on the archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly of the Syro-Malabar Church for the controversial land deals done between April 2013 and March 2018.
As per the IT directive, the archdiocese has already paid Rs 50 lakh as the initial amount of the fine. The department has also instructed the middlemen of the land transaction to pay fine. During the probe, the department found that there were efforts to evade tax in the land transaction and the plots were registered for lesser amounts while the sale was done for higher amounts.
The allegation is that as per the land sale deed on June 21, 2016, the archdiocese had huge financial loss and there were also allegations of corruption, tax evasion, misuse of Church assets and other illegal activities in the land deal.
However, the Church which admitted that there were inconsistencies in the land transaction did not confirm the details of the anomalies in the deal.
However, the Archdiocese refuted the report that it has paid fine of `50 lakh . In an official media release, archdiocese PRO made it clear that it has remitted `50 lakh not as fine but the tax payable for the income from land transaction done during 2016-17. The archdiocese has filed the IT return based on which the IT department asked to pay the amount, the release said.
Meanwhile, the Joseph Injodey commission appointed by apostolic administrator bishop Jacob Manathodath to inquire into the land deals submitted its report on Monday. The commission which probed all land deals and financial transactions in the archdiocese during the period from April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2018 has submitted the final report to Bishop Manathodath who will hand it over to Cardinal Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches in Rome.
According to a Church release, unprecedented allegations had rocked the archdiocese during 2016-18 following a series of land deals. Following the controversies, Pope Francis removed Cardinal Mar George Alencherry from from the day-to-day affairs of the archdiocese and appointed Bishop Manathodath as apostolic administrator.
He was asked by Vatican to conduct an audit of the financial transactions of the archdiocese by an independent agency. Bishop Manathodath appointed the committee which was assisted by management consultancy KPMG. The committee interviewed more than 80 respondents...