Rape accused former bishop surrenders in Kerala court, given bail with conditions
Two days after the Supreme Court turned down his plea, former Bishop of Jalandhar Franco Mulakkal surrendered before the trial court in Kottayam in Kerala which later granted him bail under strict provisions.
He was asked not leave Kerala and appear before it on Aug 13 when the charge sheet will be read out in the court. The court had cancelled his bail last month when he repeatedly failed to appear before it. Later, he moved the High Court and Supreme Court, but both refused to entertain his plea to quash the case.
Public prosecutor Jithesh Babu told the court that earlier Mulakkal had claimed he had tested positive for Covid-19, but had failed to produce a certificate showing that he recovered from the illness. Then the court directed health officials to check the claim.
On the last two occasions, he skipped the court saying he was staying in a containment zone in Jalandhar and later he said he had tested positive for coronavirus. But the prosecution questioned the veracity of both claims.
The case surfaced in 2018, after a 43-year-old nun complained to the police in Kottayam that Mulakkal had raped her several times between 2014 and 2016. The nun is a member of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation based in Punjab. But Mulakkal denied it saying he was implicated after he took action against her for financial irregularities in the convent.
Later, a special investigation team (SIT) was formed and it arrested him in September 2018. He was granted bail after spending 40 days in jail. He was removed from the post of the bishop later. The SIT had filed the charge sheet against him last year but he failed to appear before the court several times. The petitioner had also complained that some of the witnesses were threatened by Mulakkal’s followers.