July 13, 2020 6:34:05 pm
The Kottayam Additional District Court Monday cancelled the bail of rape-accused Catholic Bishop Franco Mulakkal after he failed to appear on numerous occasions before the court despite several warnings. The court proceeded to issue a non-bailable arrest warrant against him.
When the case came up for hearing today, the Bishop, through his counsel, informed the court that he would not be able to appear in person as he was on the primary contact list of a person who tested positive for coronavirus in Jalandhar in Punjab where he is currently based. Mulakkal is the former Bishop of the Jalandhar diocese of the Catholic Church.
On July 1 too, when the case last came up for hearing, Mulakkal had excused himself by stating that he was located in a containment zone and therefore wouldn’t be able to travel to Kerala.
The special prosecutor, appearing on behalf of the police, informed the court that Mulakkal was lying and was simply attempting to delay the proceedings in the case.
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Mulakkal, who was granted bail in 2018, is accused of raping a nun belonging to the order of Missionaries of Jesus several times between 2014 and 2016 at a convent in Kottayam district in Kerala. The 56-year-old was arrested following huge protests in Kerala and spent nearly 40 days in jail before he received bail. While he claims the charges are concocted, the rape victim and her colleagues in the order have stuck to their testimony. There are also allegations that he, through the Church, was going about intimidating witnesses and applying pressure on others to change their testimonies. This is the first time in India that rape charges have been framed against a Catholic Bishop.
Last week, the Kerala High Court dismissed the discharge plea of Mulakkal, insisting that he must face trial.
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