The senior Catholic priest Franco Mulakkal, who has been accused of raping a nun in Kerala, has approached the Kerala High Court to seek protection from arrest. Franco Mulakkal's move comes a day before he has to appear before the police for questioning. However, Mulakkal's anticipatory bail plea hearing has been deferred to 25 September.
Franco Mulakkal had written to Pope Francis requesting for permission to step down temporarily as the bishop or head of the Diocese of Jalandhar, saying he needs to spend more time to fight his case.
Mulakkal's lawyer, P Vijaya Bhanu told Mathrubhumi that the Bishop may move the high court seeking quashing of the FIR against him and an anticipatory bail to evade arrest.
According to the Bishop’s petition, the allegations levelled by the nun were "wholly concocted and cooked up only to wreak vengeance for the action taken against the nun on the basis of various complaints against her. She was removed from the post of Mother Superior and Kerala in-charge on a complaint from her cousin and another nun. “Therefore, she was inimical towards him as she was under the firm belief that he was the one who had taken action against her."
Read the anticipatory bail petition here
The bishop claimed in the plea that the was falsely implicated in the case. The complaint of the nun was "nothing but a fictional story” and “ part of a vicious programme to bring down the Applicant who is holding a very high post in the congregation", the bail plea further said.
According to News18, in his defence, the main point raised by Mulakkal's lawyer will be that he was targeted due to an internal rift in the congregation, and he did not commit the crime he is accused of.
The Bishop is set to appear before the investigating team on Wednesday. The decision to summon the clergyman was taken after a meeting chaired by Sakhare, Inspector General (Ernakulam range), which was also attended by Kottayam district superintendent of police Harisankar and Vaikom deputy superintendent of police K Subhash amid mounting pressure on police to initiate action against Mulakkal.
The Kerala-based nun had accused the clergyman of sexually assaulting her 13 times between 2014 and 2016 during his visits to the Jalandhar-diocese run convent at Kuruvilangad in Kottayam district.
On Saturday, Mulakkal stepped down from his position in the church amid growing outrage over lack of action against him. He wrote to the Pope offering to "step aside temporarily" as Bishop of the Jalandhar diocese. He also released a statement seeking prayers for himself, the nun and her supporters and said that perhaps only a divine intervention could bring out the truth now. He said that he was ready for a death sentence even if he was found one percent guilty.
Meanwhile, the protest by various Catholic reformation organisations and a group of nuns seeking arrest of Mulakkal entered the 11th day on Tuesday with the sister of the rape survivor joining the agitation seeking justice. The sister of the victim nun started her hunger strike from Monday, the 10th day of the protest.
Several Catholic priests have visited the protest venue in Kochi expressing their solidarity with their agitation. However, there are several religious groups have backed the Bishop. The Kerala Catholic Bishop Council (KCBC) had earlier slammed the nuns' protest, saying it has "crossed all limits".
The nun had recently sought the urgent intervention of the Vatican for justice and demanded the Bishop's removal as the head of the Jalandhar diocese, questioning why the church was "closing its eyes to the truth" when she had mustered the courage to make public her suffering.
She has alleged that Mulakkal was using "political and money power" to "bury" the case against him. The Bishop has claimed there were "several contradictions" in the evidence collected against him by the police probing the case. "I leave everything into the hand of God as I await the result of the findings of the team probing the allegation," he had said in a circular last week.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Sep 18, 2018 14:32 PM