Bishop Franco Mulakkal, the priest from the Jalandhar Catholic Diocese, who is accused of raping and sexually assaulting a nun, got conditional bail from the Kerala High Court today. After granting the bail, the HC directed the priest to return his passport, besides asking the accused not to enter Kerala state except for appearing before the probe officer once in two weeks on Saturdays. According to the IE report, this condition would be applicable till a charge sheet is filed in the case.
It may be recalled that the priest had approached the high court for bail after a magistrate court extended his judicial remand. Earlier this month, the HC had also rejected his bail while accepting the prosecution’s stand that giving the accused bail would hamper the course of the investigation. In her complaint to the Kottayam Police in June, the nun had alleged that Bishop Mulakkal had raped her at a guest house in Kuravilangad in May 2014 and subsequently, sexually exploited her on several occasions over a period of two years from May 5, 2014. The nun also said that she had to approach the police as the church authorities did not act even after repeated complaints, noted the report.
In the remand report submitted in the HC, the police said the medical examination confirmed that the nun was sexually assaulted. It said the bishop had used his spiritual authority to exploit the nun. A day with the bishop programme was also misused by the bishop, the report said.
Mulakkal, the first Bishop in the country to be arrested on rape charges, was held after three days of intense questioning in September. Quoting the police sources the report said that while Mulakkal, during interrogation, stuck to his claim that he did not rape the nun, he was arrested following contradictions in his statements, circumstantial evidence, statements of witnesses, and the nun’s statement under Section 164 of the CrPC. The Vatican has temporarily relieved him from the administrative responsibilities of Jalandhar diocese of Missionaries of Jesus, added the report.