The Supreme Court has dismissed a review plea by Bishop Franco Mulakkal in connection with the alleged rape of a nun in Kerala between 2014 and 2016, and upheld its earlier decision – that Mulakkal, 56, would stand trial in the case.
“We don’t find any error in the impugned judgement so as to call for its review. The review petition is, accordingly, dismissed,” a three-member bench led by Chief Justice SA Bobde said.
Mulakkal had sought to clear rape charges against him in a petition filed before the top court in August. At that time the top court had denied the petition. A bench led by the Chief Justice said: “You don’t have a case and there is no merit in your petition”.
In his petition Mulakkal told the Supreme Court he had been implicated in the case and questioned the financial dealings of the nun who had accused him of rape. He said he was innocent.
The 43-year-old nun, a member of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation based in Punjab. had filed a complaint with Kerala’s Kottayam Police in June 2018.
Earlier, both the Kerala High Court and the trial court had dismissed Mulakkal’s plea to clear charges against him and directed him to face trial.
A special investigation team (SIT) of the Kerala Police arrested Mulakkal in September 2018 after several rounds of questioning. He was freed on bail after 40 days.
Mulakkal was removed as the Jalandhar bishop after the rape allegations surfaced.
In February this year, another nun – a witness against Mulakkal – alleged he had made unwanted physical contact with her. In her statement, which was part of a charge sheet filed by Kerala Police last year, the nun alleged the incident took place in Mulakkal’s room at a convent.
The trial was scheduled to start on November 11 last year but it was put off till November 30. It was again deferred to January 6 this year after Mulakkal sought more time.
Later, he filed a discharge plea in the trial court in Kottayam, seeking to clear charges against him.
On July 1 Mulakkal skipped a hearing at the Kottayam additional district court on the grounds that his house was in a coronavirus containment zone. The public prosecutor then pointed out the area was not a containment zone and that it was a deliberate attempt to delay the case.
The bishop has been charged with rape, wrongful confinement, unnatural offence and criminal intimidation.