Kerala HC rejects former bishop’s plea to adjourn his trial in rape case
The Kerala High Court on Thursday rejected a petition of rape accused former bishop of Jalandhar Franco Mulakkal to adjourn the trial against him citing a big spurt in coronavirus cases in Kerala.
In his plea, he said in view of the Covid-19 pandemic situation his lawyers are finding it difficult to appear before the trial court in Kottayam and hearing can be resumed after two months once the situation normalises.
But his plea was opposed by the prosecution saying it was part of his plan to delay the trial. It said when witnesses are facing intense animosity and danger, it will be inappropriate to adjourn the case at this juncture. The prosecution also cited his multiple attempts earlier to delay the trial. The court agreed to the contention of the prosecution and rejected Mulakkal’s plea.
Following the rejection of the plea, the trial will continue in the chief judicial magistrate court in Kottayam. The court has posted the next hearing on October 5. Since proceedings are in-camera press has not been allowed to cover the trial.
Mulakkal, former head of the Jalandhar Diocese was accused of raping a 44-year-old nun of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation between 2014 and 2016. He was arrested in September 2018, but later released on bail.
The rape survivor and fellow nuns who supported her are leading a secluded life in a convent in Kottayam. There were many attempts to evict them but the High Court had intervened and directed police to give protection to them.