By Matters India Reporter
Kottayam, May 5, 2019: A court in Kerala on May 4 summoned Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar to appear before it on May 10 in connection with a rape case.
In a major development in the case, the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court in Pala has accepted in its file a chargesheet submitted by a special police team that investigated a Catholic nun’s rape complaint against the bishop.
The chargesheet and supporting documents – submitted by the investigation led by Vaikom Deputy Superintendent of Police K Subhash – were accepted after preliminary verification. The court then issued the summons to the bishop.
The New Indian Express newspaper quoted sources to say that the accused will be handed over a copy of the chargesheet and related documents when he appears before the judge.
Later, the court will commit the case to the Principal Sessions Court, Kottayam, taking into account the nature of the case and gravity of the crime. The trial will be conducted in the Principal Sessions Court and the accused will be issued another summons before that.
The chargesheet submitted by the investigation team runs into more than 2,000 pages and includes three volumes.
The bishop has been arraigned an accused in the case under Indian Penal Code Sections 342 (wrongful confinement), 376 (2k) (rape on a woman incapable of giving consent), 376 (2n) (causing grievous bodily harm during rape), 376 (c) (a) 377 (unnatural offence), 506 (1) (criminal intimidation) IPC Sections).
If proven guilty, the B=bishop may get a punishment of life imprisonment or minimum imprisonment of not less than 10 years.
Along with the chargesheet, the investigation team also submitted 101 documents before the court. It has listed about 83 witnesses, including Cardinal George Alencherry, head of the Syro-Malabar Church, Bishops Joseph Kallarangatt of Palai, Kurian Valiyakandathil of Bhagalpur and Sebastian Vadakkel of Ujjain.
The seven magistrates, who recorded the statements of witnesses, will also turn up as witnesses in the case.
A Catholic nun, former superior general of the Missionaries of Jesus, complained to the police on June 27, 2018, that Bishop Mulakkal had sexually abused her several times during 2014-2016 at their convent in Kuravilangad near Palai.
The bishop continues to deny the charges, saying the nun made up the story since he had initiated disciplinary actions against her. The nun’s congregation is under the control of the Jalandhar diocese.