Bishop of Jalandhar diocese of Catholic Church, Franco Mulakkal, who stands accused of raping a nun, has been remanded to police custody by the Judicial First Class Magistrate, Pala for two days. The Bishoo was arrested by police yesterday, after three days of interrogation since September 19. The police had sought custody of Bishop for three days for further interrogation. The police stated that the Bishop had to be taken to the guest house of the convent where the offence allegedly took place to gather further evidence, and also required to examine his mobile records and laptop.
The Magistrate also dismissed the bail application filed by the Bishop.
The allegation is that the complainant was subjected to rape on multiple occasions between 6-5-2014 to 23-09-2016 by Franco Mulakkal by abusing his dominant position. On the basis of her complaint, the Kuravilangad police registered Crime No. 746 of 2018 for offences punishable under Sections 342, 376 (2)(k) and (n) , 377, and 506 (I) IPC.
The delay in arresting the Bishop even after more than 80 days of registration of FIR had led to massive protests from several quarters. Five nuns of the Missionaries of Jesus, the congregation to which the complainant also belongs ,had started a historic protest near the High Court seeking proper investigation of the case. The unique protest staged by nuns for the past two weeks had gained a lot of public support. After news of Bishop's arrest, the nuns declared end of the protest, but vowed to continue the fight to secure justice for the victim.
Franco had filed an application for anticipatory bail in the High Court on last Tuesday. However, the application was adjourned to September 25. In view of his arrest in the meantime, the application has become infructuous.
Three PILs are pending in the High Court seeking monitoring of investigation in the case. While considering the petitions on September 13, the Division Bench of the High Court had recorded prima facie satisfaction of the course of investigation on the basis of report submitted by the investigating officer. The prosecution had submitted that meticulous investigation spanning over seven districts in Kerala, and five States was under progress, and statements of 81 witnesses have been taken. It was also submitted that notice under Section 41A of CrPC has been served on Franco Mulakkal to appear before police on September 19 for interrogation. Taking note of this submission, the Court adjourned the petitions to September 24.