Bishop Franco Mulakkal who is the prime accused in the nun rape case in Kerala was granted bail by the Kottayam Additional Sessions court on Friday, 7 August. This comes after the trial court in July cancelled his bail for failing to turn up for all hearings.
The court has now granted bail to the rape accused Bishop on a fresh bail sureties and adjourned the next hearing to 13 August, 2020, when the chargesheet will be read out.
His new bail conditions specify that until 13 August, Bishop Franco must not leave Kerala and must also be physically present for all subsequent hearings. The judge also recalled the non-bailable warrant which was issued earlier.
The prosecution also pointed out that the accused, who was tested positive for coronavirus in July in Jalandhar, Punjab, had not submitted a COVID-19 negative certificate before the court. The court observed that this will be looked into by the health department.
The court has also directed the accused to submit a fresh bail bond, and it is on this condition that the court granted him a bail. Special prosecutor Jithesh Babu appeared for the prosecution and advocates CS Ajayan and Sudeesh Kumar appeared for the accused Bishop.
Back on 13 July, the trial court in Kottayam had rejected Bishop Franco’s bail after the accused had failed to turn up at court for all 14 hearings held so far. His counsel had then told the court that the Bishop was unable to appear for the 13 July hearing as he had been in quarantine after meeting a lawyer in Jalandhar who tested positive for the virus.
The Bishop later also tested positive for the virus after his swab samples were taken at the Jalandhar Civil Lines hospital.
The Bishop’s counsel had also added that the accused was stuck in a containment zone in Jalandhar. However, after the court was informed that the Civil Lines neighbourhood where the Bishop resided is not a containment zone, the court cancelled his bail and issued a non-bailable warrant.
Bishop Franco, of the Jalandhar Diocese, has been accused of raping a 44-year-old nun from the Missionaries of Jesus convent in Kuruvilangad, Kottayam between 2014 and 2016. He was arrested on 21 September, 2018. His arrest came after relentless protests by five nuns from the congregation. However, in October 2018, he was granted bail.
(The story has been published in an arrangement with The News Minute.)
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