Kerala court files charges against ex-Bishop Franco Mulakkal in nun rape case

The Judge read out the charges under various sections of the IPC including the punishment for offence for rape to Franco Mulakkal

Former Bishop Franco Mulakkal was granted bail by the Court last week with stringent conditions. File photo: PTI

A court in Kerala’s Kottayam on Thursday (August 13) framed charges against former Bishop of Jalandhar Diocese, Franco Mulakkal, in the case relating to the rape of a nun in Kerala.

The Additional Sessions Court Judge read out to Mulakkal, who was present in the court, the charges under various sections of the IPC including the punishment for offence for rape as it commenced trial proceedings in the sensational case.

The accused denied the charges against him.

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The case was posted for September 16 for the victim’s examination.

He has been charged under various Sections of IPC including 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement), 377 (Unnatural Sex), 376 (c)(a) Sexual intercourse by person in authority 376(2)(k) (indulging in sexual intercourse by exhorting authority), and 506 (criminal intimidation).

Last week, the Bishop was granted bail by the Court with stringent conditions and directions for him to be present on the dates of hearing of the case.

The Supreme Court had earlier directed Mulakkal to face trial as it dismissed his plea discharge in the rape case lodged against him by the nun belonging to a congregation under Jalandhar diocese, saying there was no merit in his petition.

Mulakkal, in his plea had challenged the July 7 Kerala High Court order, dismissing his discharge plea in the rape case filed by the nun.

The High Court had asked the deposed Bishop of Jalandhar diocese to stand for trial in the rape case.

The senior priest of the Roman Catholic Church had filed the revision petition following the dismissal of his discharge plea by a trial court in March this year.

The senior priest of the Roman Catholic Church had filed the revision petition following the dismissal of his discharge plea by a trial court in March this year.

Mulakkal filed a discharge plea in the trial court in Kottayam to clear the charges against him, claiming that the rape survivor targeted him after he took action against her for “financial irregularities” in the convent.

In his plea filed before the High Court, the accused priest argued that he was implicated after he questioned the financial dealings of the victim nun.

The bishop had filed the discharge plea in the trial court just ahead of commencement of the preliminary hearing on charges against him.

The trial was scheduled to begin on November 11, 2019, but was deferred to November 30. It was put off once again to January 6, 2020 after Mulakkal sought more time.

On July 1, the bishop also skipped a hearing at the Kottayam additional district court, claiming his house was in a COVID-19 containment zone. However, a public prosecutor later pointed out that his area was not a containment zone and that it was a deliberate attempt to delay the case.

The rape case against the Bishop was registered by police in Kottayam district.

In her complaint to the police in June 2018, the nun had alleged that she was subjected to sexual abuse by the bishop between 2014 and 2016.

The bishop, who was arrested by the Special Investigation Team which probed the case, charged him with wrongful confinement, rape, unnatural sex and criminal intimidation. He was released on bail after 40 days.

(With inputs from agencies)

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