An additional sessions court in Kottayam on Friday acquitted Bishop Franco Mulakkal in the sensational case pertaining to the rape of a catholic nun. Mulakkal had been the bishop of Jalandhar, but had been divested of the administrative charges after the scandal emerged in 2018.
Mulakkal had been arrested in September, 2018 in connection with the complaint of a nun, who had alleged that Mulakkal had raped her 13 times at her Congregation’s mission house in Kottayam district, over a period of two years from May 5, 2014. He had been the first Indian Catholic bishop to be arrested in a rape case and was lodged in judicial custody for 25 days after his arrest in September, 2018.
Tight security was deployed outside the Kottayam Additional Sessions Court on Friday morning, ahead of the pronouncement of the verdict in the high-profile case. The case is significant as it marks the first time a Catholic Bishop was arrested and booked on charges of rape and sexual harassment in India.
The trial commenced in 2020, and even though Mulakkal approached the High Court and the Supreme Court with a plea to quash the charges against him, the courts refused to entertain the plea.
Denying the rape allegations, the Bishop claimed that the story was ‘fabricated’ and in retaliation for taking action against her with regard to a complaint raised by a woman. Mulakkal faces a slew of charges including illegal confinement, sexual harassment through abuse of power, unnatural sex, rape and outraging the modesty of a woman. Vaikkom DySP K Subhash was the investigating officer.
Mulakkal was relieved from official duties at the Jalandhar diocese after he was charged by the police in the rape case.