Revenue Dept for probe into Bishop Yohannan’s land deals

published on June 24, 2008

Revenue Dept for probe into Yohannan’s land deals

Pioneer News Service | Thiruvananthapuram

The Revenue Department has decided to intensify its probe into the various land deals by gospel worker ‘Bishop’ KP Yohannan of the Believers’ Church, against whom several allegations of fraudulent deals have come up. It has been alleged that Yohannan had taken possession of several hundred acres hectares of land through such deals.

The decision by the Revenue Department follows the finding that the 2,263 acres of land he had bought in Cheruvally Estate does not have required documents. The Government had the other day made a submission in the Kerala High Court about this. The Government in an affidavit submitted in the court said that Yohannan’s ownership claims of the Cheruvalli Estate were wrong.

The court has now posted the hearing on the plea of Yohannan to allow him to fell the rubber trees in the estate to July 4. Yohannan had, through a petition in the court, questioned the Government act of prohibiting felling of rubber trees in the estate.

The documents for the purchase of the 2,263 acres of land were registered in 2005 at the office of the sub-registrar in Erumeli. The documents said that the land was bought from the Malalayalam Plantations, which had got the land from Malayalam Rubber and Producing Company, which was facing liquidation.

The Government says that even if such a land transaction had taken place it would have no legal validity. It holds that the transaction itself was not legally valid as per the Kerala Land Reforms Act. Therefore, argues the Government, Yohannan is keeping the land in his possession illegally. The Government submitted in the court that the Malayalam Rubber and Producing Company, said to be a foreign firm, had taken the land on lease from the late Raja of Travancore.

Sources in the Revenue Department said that the plan was to hold a thorough probe into all the land deals of the head of the Believers’ Church. A recent State police report had said that most of Yohannan’s investments were in land and that he had invested several hundred crores of rupees in land purchases.

Probes had also found that the gospel worker had involved in a land deal worth Rs 130 crore recently. They had also found that the ‘Bishop’ had recently purchased 40 acres of paddy farmland in Kuttappuzha near Thiruvalla and filled it with the intention of overcoming the land ceiling imposed by the Land Reforms Act.

The probe found that the entire property of Believers’ Church and Gospel for Asia was held by trusts with Yohannan and his relatives. The asset base of Believers’ Church was Rs 572 crore and that of Gospel for Asia was Rs 472 crore.

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