New Delhi: The Kerala High Court on Monday granted conditional bail to Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who was arrested on charges of raping a nun between 2014 and 2016. The court has laid down the conditions that Bishop Mulakkal should not enter Kerala and should surrender his passport before the court. Also Read - 'Talked About Sex on Video Calls', Fresh Allegations Levelled Against Rape-accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal
Justice Raja Vijayaraghavan, while directing the bail also asked Bishop Mulakkal to report to the investigating officer once in two weeks. This condition would be applicable till a charge sheet is filed in the case. The 54-year-old Bishop, currently lodged in a sub-jail in Pala in Kottayam district, moved the high court again after a magistrate court extended his judicial remand. Also Read - Kerala Court Summons Bishop Franco Mulakkal For Trial In Nun's Rape Case on November 11
Mulakkal, who heads the Roman Catholic Diocese in Jalandhar, Punjab, is the first bishop in the country to be sent to jail on charges of rape and since then he has been getting a steady stream of high profile visitors including leading politicians. Also Read - Kerala Nun Rape Scandal: Nun Who Was Expelled After Protest Against Bishop Franco Mulakkal Files Plaint of Wrongful Confinement
He was arrested on September 21 in Tripunithura after three days of questioning. On September 23, he was taken to the Kuravilangadu Convent, the alleged crime scene, as a part of the evidence-collection process.
On October 3, the Kerala High Court denied Mulakkal’s bail plea while accepting the prosecution argument that the accused, holding a high position in society will try to influence witnesses in the case, if granted bail. Police had also opposed the bail application of the clergyman, saying investigation was still on in the case.
On October 6, Mulakkal was produced before Judge M. Lekshmi of the Pala Judicial Magisterial Court who extended his judicial custody. The entire court proceedings took a matter of five minutes. Mulakkal informed the court that he has no issues with the Pala sub-jail, where he was kept ever since he was remanded.
In her complaint to the Kottayam Police in June, the nun had alleged that Bishop Mulakkal raped her at a guest house in Kuravilangad in May 2014 and later sexually exploited her on several occasions. The nun said she had to approach the police as church authorities did not act on her repeated complaints against the clergyman.
However, Mulakkal had dismissed the allegations saying that the nuns are being used by the anti-church elements. “I feel there are people who are against the church, they’re using these sisters. This is a conspiracy and several people are taking advantage of the situation, they are putting sisters at the forefront,” Franco Mulakkal had said.