By Matters India Reporter
New Delhi: The Supreme Court of India has acquitted three persons, including two Catholic nuns, for allegedly assisting a priest accused of impregnating a minor girl in Kerala.
The apex court on August 1 cited lack of evidence for acquitting Sisters Tessy Thomas and Ancy Mathew along with Doctor Hyder Ali. The three worked in Khrist Raja Hospital in Koothuparamba, a town in the Kannur district of Kerala.
The order was passed by Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan. They, however, ordered the other two accused in the case — Father Thomas Therakam and Sister Betty Joseph — to stand trial.
The five were accused of covering up the incident of a minor girl giving birth at the hospital and arranging the child’s transfer to an orphanage. According to the prosecution they did so to save Father Mathew (Robin) Vadakkancheril, who was the vicar at the St Sebastian’s Church in Kottiyoor in Kannur.
He was arrested on February 28, 2017, on charges of sexually exploiting the minor girl who was his parishioner. His diocese, Manathavady, removed him from the office on the same day.
The Christu Raj Hospital, managed by the Sacred Heart Sisters, had termed the allegation as baseless. The hospital authorities said the girl was brought to the hospital on February 7, 2017, after she complained of stomach pain and the doctors found her pregnant.
Immediately, she was admitted to the labor room and she gave birth to a baby boy. Her mother had accompanied her to hospital. After a while, her father joined them. After a day, the baby was taken away and the girl was discharged the very next day, they said.
“They never revealed anything else. Hence we obtained a statement in writing that the hospital will not be responsible for any issues in future in this regard,” the hospital said. It also registered the birth at Koothuparamba municipality on February 13, 2017. They wrote the girl was unmarried as her marital status in the form.
“At the time of admission, her parents told us that she was 18 and hence we did not inform any official,” the hospital authorities explained their failure to inform the police.
However, the officials of Childline came to the hospital on February 10, 2017, and informed the authorities that the girl was minor. “As they demanded, we provided all details including her address,” the hospital said in a press release issued after the three were booked.
As the Supreme Court acquitted the three the trial of Father Vadakkancheril in a court in Tellicherry, some 15 km southwest of Koothuparamba, took a new turn on August 1.
The victim told the Additional District Sessions Court that she had consensual physical relations with the priest and that she was 18 at that time of their affair. Her earlier statement to a magistrate accusing the priest was made under threat, she added. She said she wants to lead a life with her lover.
She, however, refused to undergo a scientific test to determine her age.