The Kerala High Court on Monday granted bail to bishop Franco Mulakkal, an accused in a case relating to alleged rape of a nun, on stringent conditions.
Granting the bail, the high court directed accused Roman Catholic Bishop Franco Mulakkal to surrender his passport and not to enter Kerala state except for appearing before the probe officer once in two weeks on Saturdays. This condition would be applicable till a charge sheet is filed in the case.
The bail comes after three weeks of his arrest.
The 54-year-old bishop had approached the high court last month after a magistrate’s court in Pala rejected his bail application, in which he stated that he had been implicated for taking action against the nun.
Earlier on October 3, the Kerala High Court had dismissed the bail plea of the bishop while accepting the prosecution argument that the accused, holding a high position in society will try to influence witnesses in the case, if granted bail.
Bishop Mulakkal is currently under judicial remand in a sub-jail in Pala in Kottayam district.
The police had earlier opposed bail on grounds that the case was still progressing after the arrest of Bishop Malakkal on September 21.
Bishop Mulakkal was arrested after three days of questioning by the Kerala police team over the sexual assault allegations.
The bishop in his second bail petition said the High Court had dismissed his bail plea citing the reason that the statements of several witnesses would have to be recorded. In fact, the statements of the witnesses under Section 164 of CrPC had been recorded now. Therefore, the prosecution did not harbor any fear now that the witnesses would be threatened or influenced. Besides, he no longer held the charge of the Jalandhar diocese. As a result, he was not in a domineering position at this stage to influence the witnesses or tamper with the evidence as apprehended by the prosecution.
The case was registered by the Kuravilangad police in Kottayam district on a complaint by the nun, who belonged to the Missionaries of Jesus under the Jalandhar diocese. She had alleged that she was raped by the bishop from May 5, 2014, to May 6, 2016, on 14 occasions in a room attached to the St. Francis Mission Home, Kuruvilangad.
The nun who wrote to the Vatican earlier had said she was forced to approach the police as church authorities did not act on her repeated complaints against the bishop.
In his petition, Mulakkal said the allegations were “wholly concocted and cooked up only to wreak vengeance” for the action taken against her. His counsel argued that the nun was inimical towards him since she was removed from the post of Mother Superior and Kerala in-charge on a complaint from her cousin and another nun. His counsel also claimed that further detention was not needed since he had been interrogated for hours before and after his arrest.
Mulakkal had dismissed the allegations saying that the nuns are being used by the anti-church elements. “I feel there are people who are against the church, they’re using these sisters. This is a conspiracy and several people are taking advantage of the situation, they are putting sisters at the forefront,” Franco Mulakkal had said