Bishop Franco Mulakkal tests COVID-19 positive hours after Kerala court issues arrest warrant against him
However, members of a group of clergy members and laity who fought to get Mulakkal arrested raised doubts on whether he actually tested positive.
Franco Mulakkal, the former Jalandhar Bishop accused of raping a Kerala nun, tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, reports have said. He tested positive hours after a court in Kottayam cancelled the bail granted to him and issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against him.
Hindustan Times quoted the spokesperson of the Jalandhar Diocese Father Peter as saying that Mulakkal's health is "not so good."
However, members of Save Our Sisters (SOS) Action Council, a group of clergy members and laity who fought to get Mulakkal arrested, raised doubts on the claim. One of them, Riju told The News Minute, "We seriously doubt the legitimacy of this update. We have confirmation that the Bishop House where the accused is residing is not under a lockdown. The incumbent Administrative Bishop has been stepping out of the residence. The other priests too have not been in quarantine. If there is a COVID-19 patient in Bishop House, then their approach would not be so lax and casual."
On Monday, Mulakkal's counsel had told the court that he could not appear for the hearing as he had been a primary contact of a COVID-19 positive person, and was therefore in self-quarantine.
Mulakkal had not appeared for an earlier hearing on 1 July, and had claimed he was staying in a containment zone in Jalandhar. However, in response, the prosecution had cited official records to show that the area where he was staying was not a containment zone.
The court subsequently cancelled his bail, accepting the prosecution argument that the accused was trying to delay the trial, and posted the case to 13 August.
Earlier, on 7 July, the Kerala High Court had dismissed a petition seeking to discharge Mulakkal from the sexual assault case filed against him by the nun.
It had directed the deposed Bishop of Jalandhar diocese to stand for trial in the rape case, which was registered on a complaint filed by the nun of same diocese in Kerala.
The court dismissed the plea by the Bishop, admitting the prosecution's argument that there was prima facie evidence against Mulakkal in the rape case.
The nun, in her complaint to the police in June 2018, 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, has been charged with wrongful confinement, rape, unnatural sex and criminal intimidation.
With inputs from PTI
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