The Kerala High Court on Thursday directed the Munsiff Court to dispose of the matter regarding Sister Lucy Kalappura's right to reside in the Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) expeditiously within 3 weeks.
Justice Raja Vijayaraghavan while disposing of the matter also held that police protection shall not be granted to Sister as long as she continues to reside at the Convent. It was also observed that insofar as she decides to reside elsewhere, the Court was obliged to provide protection to her.
Earlier this week, Sister Lucy Kalappura had appeared before the Court to argue her own case challenging her eviction from the convent, making headlines for being the first nun to appear before a court to fight her case in Indian history. She appeared in person today as well. The nun's decision to appear herself came after her lawyer relinquished the vakalath in a petition where she had sought police protection. She had reached out to a few advocates after the relinquishment, however, no one was apparently inclined to represent her in the matter.
The Court also opined that it cannot direct the Sister to move out of the Convent as long as the matter was pending before the civil court. The Bench observed as such:
"Disciplinary proceedings were initiated only because the petitioner supported the cause of the nuns who were victimised by Bishop Franco Mulakkal. The petitioner was singled out and she was discriminated against as she had attempted to air her views in the exercise of her rights under the Constitution of India."
During an earlier hearing, counsel for Mother Superior of the Convent had produced the copy of the decretum issued by the Supremum Tribunal of Signature Apostolicae to argue that could not continue as a member of the FCC and that she was henceforth not entitled to wear the religious habit of the FCC or stay in the convent with religious sisters.
This comes after the Sister launched her open protest against Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who was accused of raping a nun. Last month, the supreme appellate authority of the Catholic Church at the Vatican had rejected her appeal against her expulsion from her congregation.
She had also published a book "Karthavinte Namathil" recounting the bitter experiences she faced in her life which stirred up quite a controversy among the respondents.
When the petitioner felt that she would be evicted pending the appeal before the Vatican, she instituted a suit before the Court of the Munsiff, Manathavady.
The petitioner contends that the harassment against the petitioner escalated and she was prevented access to the common areas. CCTV cameras have been installed in various places inside the convent to monitor her activities. She has been asked to vacate the convent even during the pendency of the Civil Suit instituted by her.
Later on, the Court had granted interim police protection to the sister at the convent. Since her right to reside was extinguished, the police protection was withdrawn.
Case Title: Sister Lucy Kalappura v. State of Kerala & Ors