MANGALORE: A former Bishop of Church of South India – Karnataka Southern Diocese (CSI-KSD) Devaraj Bangera has been sentenced to three years simple imprisonment and fined Rs 15,000 in a case related forgery and cheating by the Second Chief Judicial Magistrate Court judge Bhagya here on Saturday. Bangera has been given bail in the case.
The case pertains to the former Bishop allegedly forging his birth certificate in order to secure an additional year’s tenure as bishop. Bangera was the CSI Bishop from 2005 to 2009. He retired on attaining superannuation by completing 65 years on June 29, 2009. Bangera had filed a suit in the civil court contending that he was born a year later (1945) and therefore had one more year of tenure as CSI Bishop, but it was dismissed by the fifth additional civil court (junior division).
A private complaint was filed by advocate Chandrahas K at the Second CJM court based on the initiative of Udayaraj Kaunds, now the treasurer of CSI-KSD – after they found out that Bangera had allegedly indulged financial irregularities.
When they probed further, Kaunds found out that the Bishop had allegedly forged his birth certificate. Bangera was born in Udupi and studied at Udupi Christian School. It was alleged that the Bishop had produced fake documents reportedly issued by the Kasargod municipality, which mentioned his date of birth as June 29, 1945. However, according to documents obtained by the association using RTI Act, his date of birth in his SSLC certificate is June 29, 1944. The association also using RTI ascertained that Kasargod municipality had not issued a birth certificate 608/1945 in the name of Devaraj Bangera.
In 2009, some CSI members had launched an indefinite strike against the health project (hospital) proposed at the decades-old heritage Mission Bungalow in Mysore expressing fears that the heritage structure would be demolished. Protesters had alleged that CSI-KSD bishop Bangera had leased the place where the heritage building stands, to a US-based company for construction of 300-bedded hospital, by unfair means.
The case was argued for the state senior assistant public prosecutors B Shekhar Shetty and Ajith Kumar Hamaji.