Take action against ex-bishop under Canon laws, Kerala nuns tell church

Five nuns and the victim are confined to a convent in Kottayam and leading a secluded life since they raised the complaint against Franco Mullakal. They were not allowed to participate in religious services and there were also attempts to transfer them to different locations to weaken the case.
The statement of one of the witnesses had surfaced on Friday in which she said she too had undergone sexual harassment and had accused deposed Bishop of Jalandhar Franco Mullakal .(HT FILE PHOTO.)
The statement of one of the witnesses had surfaced on Friday in which she said she too had undergone sexual harassment and had accused deposed Bishop of Jalandhar Franco Mullakal .(HT FILE PHOTO.)
Updated on Feb 22, 2020 07:44 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram | By

A day after the second complaint against deposed Bishop of Jalandhar Franco Mullakal surfaced, Kerala nuns fighting for justice for the victim asked church authorities not to shield him anymore and take action against him under Canon laws.

The statement of one of the witnesses had surfaced on Friday in which she said she too had undergone sexual harassment and had accused Mullakal. But, the police did not file a separate case against him after the 36-year-old nun insisted that she was not willing to pursue her charges, Kollam SP Harishankar who supervised the probe said.

“We are happy another nun has come out to narrate her plight. We want the church authorities to take action against him under relevant Canon laws. It is time for the church to stand with the victim, not the perpetrator,” said Sister Anupama who led the month-long fast in Kochi seeking the arrest of Mullakal in 2018. Five nuns of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation had come around the nun who raised rape charges against the bishop.

Five nuns and the victim are confined to a convent in Kottayam and leading a secluded life since they raised the complaint against Franco Mullakal. They were not allowed to participate in religious services and there were also attempts to transfer them to different locations to weaken the case. “We want the church to support us and end our isolation and agony,” said Sister Anupama.

Sister Lucy Kalappura, another nun who was expelled from the congregation citing ‘serious indiscipline,’ said more nuns will come out to depose against the unseated bishop if the police provide them protection.

“It is good that nuns are coming out to narrate their sexual exploitations. They are not slaves. It is time for the church to check further decay and set things right,” she said. She had claimed she was expelled from the congregation for supporting the stir against Franco Mullakal two years ago.

The case against Mullakal surfaced in June 2018 after a 43-year-old nun, also a mother superior, 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 her charges and claimed he was framed after he took action against her over “financial irregularities” in the convent. He was arrested in September 2018 after a group of nuns hit the street.

Meanwhile, the additional district court in Kottayam on Saturday heard the petition of Mulakkal to discharge him from the case. Since proceedings were in-camera media persons were not allowed to cover it. Mullakal was not present in the court either. His counsel B Raman Pillai questioned the selective leaking of the statement of one of the witnesses in the court. But the prosecution contended that repeated pleas of Mullakal were aimed at delaying the trial.

This is the first time in the country a senior functionary of the church is facing rape charges. Mullakal has been charged under Section 342 (wrongful confinement), Section 367 (K) (rape on a woman incapable of giving her consent), 366 C & 377 (unnatural offence) and Section 506 (1) of the Indian Penal Code. If convicted, he will get a jail term not less than 12 years.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Ramesh Babu is HT’s bureau chief in Kerala, with about three decades of experience in journalism.

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