A Kerala court on Monday, 13 July, cancelled the bail granted last year to Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who is accused of raping a nun in Kerala.
The Kottayam Principal Sessions court, which is hearing the case, cancelled Bishop Franco’s bail and also issued a non-bailable arrest warrant. This, as the Bishop failed to turn up for the hearings held so far. Bishop Franco has not attended 14 of the hearings in the case so far.
On Monday, the accused Bishop’s counsel submitted before the trial court that the respondent, Bishop Franco, had been a primary contact of a coronavirus patient, and that he could not make it as he was advised quarantine.
The counsel added that Bishop Franco had met an advocate in Jalandhar to seek legal advice and the latter turned out to be coronavirus positive.
However, during the previous hearing on 1 July, Bishop Franco was notably absent. His counsel then submitted that the accused Bishop could not make it to the hearing as he was stuck in a containment zone in Jalandhar.
“However, the special prosecutor in the case then deposed before the court that this was false and that the Jalandhar Civil Lines area where the Bishop resides is not a containment zone,” a source informed of the developments told TNM.
Accepting the argument of the prosecution, the court then cancelled Bishop Franco’s bail and proceeded to issue a non-bailable warrant.
The Bishop of the Jalandhar Diocese, Bishop Franco was accused of raping a 44-year-old nun from the Missionaries of Jesus convent in Kuruvilangad, Kottayam between 2014 and 2016.
On 21 September 2018, following sustained protests by five nuns from the congregation, the Bishop was finally arrested on charges of rape. He was granted bail on 16 October 2018.
Over the course of the case, the accused Bishop has attempted several delay tactics, the latest one being a discharge petition filed by his counsel requesting for the Bishop’s name to be removed from the list of accused. The petition submitted by his counsel argued that the charges against the accused will not hold as the case was based on statements of witnesses who harboured resentment against the Bishop.
This was rejected by both the trial court as well as the Kerala High Court, which observed that there was sufficient incriminating evidence against Bishop Franco.
The court also issued the non-bailable warrant with the help of the Kottayam District Police Chief. The next hearing has been scheduled for 13 August.
(The article was originally published in The News Minute and has been reposted with permission.)
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