Kerala nun rape case: HC seeks details of action taken against bishop
Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the Jalandhar diocese is facing charges of sexually abusing a nun between May 2014 and September 2016.india Updated: Sep 10, 2018 23:54 IST
As protests in the Kottayam convent rape continued to snowball for the third straight day, the Kerala high court stepped in, asking the state government to file a detailed affidavit by Thursday on steps taken against Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the Jalandhar diocese who is facing charges of sexually abusing a nun between May 2014 and September 2016.
Alongside, the National Commission for Women too stepped up the heat on Monday, issuing summons to PC George , the Independent MLA from Poonjar who had dubbed the nun a ‘prostitute’ at a news conference last week for having waited two years before filing a police complaint against the alleged abuse. George has been summoned before the NCW on September 20.
George, however, downplayed the summon, stating: “If the commission can provide me travel allowance I will go to Delhi otherwise the chairperson can come and meet me in Kerala. I don’t have any problems. Let me study the powers of the NCW first and I will respond after this.”
As civil society joined the protests in Kochi called by the Joint Christian Council demanding the arrest of the bishop, the Missionaries of Jesus Congregation of Kottayam issued a statement vouching for his “innocence”. “We strongly condemn the protest in Kochi. We cannot crucify an innocent soul based on such allegations,” its statement read.
Earlier, in Kerala HC, two petitions came up for hearing – one filed by the nun’s relatives seeking justice for her and the other by an activist seeking a court-monitored probe into the case. The 43-year-old nun has alleged that she was raped 13 times over two years by the bishop in the guest house of the Kuravilangad convent in Kottayam district.
Hearing the petitions, a bench headed by chief justice Rishikesh Roy said that according to the investigating officer’s report filed in the court on August 13, initial inquiries had found the allegations against the bishop to be true. If that were so, what follow-up action had been taken, the court sought to know.
When the government said investigations were in the final stages, the bench observed that nobody was above the law of the land and all were equal before it. It also asked what steps had been taken to protect the victim – she had complained about a serious threat to her life -- and witnesses.
In Kochi, the sit-in by the five nuns continued for the third day, with support for their cause swelling despite the Bharat bandh. With pressure continually mounting, Kerala DGP Loknath Behra has decided to induct three more officers into the investigation team.
Police are likely to summon the bishop this week for questioning. Since the case was registered 76 days ago, the nun has been questioned 12 times and the bishop only once. The bishop has denied any wrongdoing. Former HC judge Kamal Pasha and Marxist veteran V S Achuthanandan have deplored the police inaction.
A Catholic nun, who came to the Kochi protest venue on Monday, said: “I myself in the past have brought to the attention of the church higher-ups certain undesirable things, but nothing happened.”
First Published: Sep 10, 2018 23:54 IST