Published On: January 14, 2022 at 19:50 IST
Franco Mulakkal, former Bishop of the Jalandhar Diocese, was acquitted of raping a nun in Kerala by a Kerala Court on Friday.
The much-anticipated verdict was given by Additional Sessions Judge G Gopakumar Kottayam.
When the 50-year-old nun levelled allegations against Mulakkal in 2018, she shook the Catholic establishment not only in Kerala, but across the country.
The nun allegedly approached higher-ranking church officials, including the Pope’s office, earlier in 2018 with serious allegations against Mulakkal, who was then a senior priest. She did not receive a response.
Mulakkal was the head of the Jalandhar diocese in Punjab at the time, and the nun filed a complaint with the Kottayam District Police Chief in June 2018, alleging Mulakkal of raping her 13 times between 2014 and 2016.
Following that, the Special Investigation Team, which was investigating the Case, apprehended Franco and accused him under Indian Penal Code Sections 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement), 376 (2)(k), 376(2)(n) (rigorous imprisonment for not less than ten years), 376 C(a) (intercourse by superintendent of remand home, etc), 377 (unnatural offences), and 506(ii) (criminal intimidation).
The Trial began in September 2020, but the Court barred the print and electronic media from releasing any information about the Trial at the request of Mulakkal’s counsel.
When Mulakkal first applied to the Sessions Court for a discharge without facing trial under the Criminal Procedure Code, claiming that he had been falsely accused and that there was no basis to continue against him further. In March 2020, this application was denied.
While rejecting Mulakkal’s revision petition against the lower Court’s refusal of his discharge application, the High Court stated that a discharge plea can be granted only when there are clear situations indicating that the prosecution has not been generated enough evidence to charge against the accused.