Kerala HC admits pleas challenging Bishop Franco Mulakkal's acquittal, sends him notice

Bishop Franco Mulakkal leaves after Kottayam court acquitted him in the nun / File photo: ANI

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Tuesday admitted the plea moved by the nun who claims to have been raped by Franco Mulakkal and the plea by the State government challenging his acquittal. As part of the formality, the court has also sent a notice to the Bishop.

The pleas stated that the Bishop’s acquittal was not legal and evidences were not examined properly.

The court will take up the matter for detailed hearing after the summer vacation. Meantime, the Bishop will have the opportunity to file counter affidavit.

The surviour-nun moved the appeal first. Following that prosecution moved the court challenging the bishop's acquittal after getting sanction from the government during the day.

In its appeal, filed through Additional Public Prosecutor P Narayanan, against the trial court's January 14, 2022 decision, the prosecution contended that the sessions judge, without appreciating the evidence in the correct perspective, "misconstrued facts and law and gave unwarranted acquittal to the accused" and set him free.

Seeking to set aside the sessions court's decision, the prosecution has also claimed that the lower court's judgement was "patently wrong, manifestly erroneous and totally perverse".

On January 14, the Additional District and Sessions Court I, Kottayam, acquitted the Bishop by saying the prosecution failed to produce evidence against the accused.

Mulakkal, 57, was accused of raping the nun multiple times during his visit to a convent in this district between 2014 and 2016 when he was the bishop of the Jalandhar diocese of the Roman Catholic church. The survivor is a member of the Missionaries of Jesus, a diocesan congregation under the Jalandhar Diocese.

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

The Special Investigation Team, which probed into the case, arrested the bishop in September 2018 and charged him with wrongful confinement, rape, unnatural sex and criminal intimidation.

Trial in the case, which started in November 2019, concluded on January 10. The court had restrained the print and electronic media from publishing any matter relating to the trial in the case without its permission.

(With PTI inputs)

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