By Matters India Reporter
Kochi: Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar, accused of raping a nun, sought anticipatory bail from the Kerala High Court on September 18, a day before he was to appear before the police for interrogation.
The court set Sept. 25 as the date to hear his bail application.
The 54-year-old prelate reportedly moved the bail application as he has to come to Kerala to face the police questioning, some Malayalam television channels reported. However, secrecy shrouds the bishop’s travel plans in Kerala.
The bishop is accused of subjecting a member of the Missionaries of Jesus, a congregation under his patronage, to rape and unnatural sex 13 times during 2014-2016.
The nun, who is in her mid 40s, filed the case on June 26 in Kottayam, Kerala.
In his bail application, the prelate has reportedly pleaded the court to consider his case on the same day or stay his arrest until the bail plea is heard. He alleged a conspiracy behind the case but promised to cooperate with the investigation.
He also said the police have asked him to appear for interrogation in Kerala on September 19 and that there is a likelihood of him being arrested and kept in police custody. The bail is moved to avoid such a circumstance, he explains.
The bishop also pointed out that the nun had not alleged assault in her first complaint. According to him, the nun holds a vendetta against him for initiating disciplinary action against her.
The interrogation on September 19 is the second round of police questioning the prelate in the case. Earlier on August 14, he was questioned for nearly nine hours in his residence in Jalandhar, a city in Punjab. The police have reportedly prepared more than 100 questions for the second interrogation.
Meanwhile, a sit-in staged by nuns demanding arrest of Bishop Franco Mulakkal in the nun sexual assault case entered the 11th day. The action committee said protests will continue at a busy intersection near the Kerala High Court building in Kochi, the state’s commercial capital. They also plan to extend the protest to all districts in Kerala.
A day earlier, the complainant nun’s sister launched an indefinite hunger strike at the protest venue.
The bishop in his bail application has stated he had scolded the nun several times for misbehavior. He says the sexual assault case against him is fake.
Writer and social activist P Geetha has also announced support for the protest and joined the hunger strike. A solidarity public gathering was organized on September 19 at Kuravilangad, some 50 km southeast of Kochi, where the complainant lives.