In a set back to Franco Mulakkal, former Bishop of Jalandhar diocese of Roman Catholic Church, the High Court of Kerala on Tuesday dismissed his challenge against the order of the trial court rejecting his plea to discharge him from a rape case.
Dismissing his criminal revision petition, a bench of Justice V Shircy stated that the deposed Bishop has to stand for trial in the rape case, which was registered on the basis of a complaint filed by a nun in 2018.
The HC accepted the prosecution argument that there was prima facie evidence against Mulakkal in the rape case.
On March 16, Additional Sessions and District Court-I, Kottayam had dismissed the petition filed by him seeking discharge under Section 227 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The trial court held that the charge sheet had made out a prima facie case for trial.
The priest argued that he was falsely implicated after he questioned the financial dealings of the victim nun.
The Special Investigation Team of Kerala police submitted the chargesheet in April 2019, for offences punishable under Sections 342, 376 (2)(k) and (n), 377, and 506 (I) IPC.
The allegation is that the complainant-nun was subjected to rape on multiple occasions between 6-5-2014 to 23-09-2016 by Franco Mulakkal by abusing his dominant position
After the allegations surfaced for the first time in July 2018, a collective called "Save Our Sisters" launched public protests calling for arrest of Franco. They alleged that the investigation was being sabotaged by the Church..
He was arrested by police on September 21, 2018.
He was later released on bail by the High Court on October 15 on condition that he should not set foot in Kerala.
Mulakkal has denied the charges as "baseless and concocted", and insisted that nun had made the allegations as the Catholic order had rejected her demand for favours.