Nuns of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation demonstrate in Kochi on Sept. 8, 2018, seeking the arrest of Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who is accused of raping a member of their congregation. (Photo: T.K. Devasia/UCA News)
Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar, accused of raping a Catholic nun, surrendered before a court in southern India on Aug. 7 and restored his bail under stringent conditions.
The court in Kottayam district of Kerala state had canceled the 56-year-old bishop’s bail on July 13. It also issued an arrest warrant against him after he repeatedly failed to present himself before it to start the trial in the case.
The court has now restored bail to Bishop Mulakkal, public prosecutor Jithesh J. Babu told UCA News on Aug. 7 after attending the court.
The arrest warrant was suspended until Aug. 7 after lawyers told the court that the bishop was suffering from Covid-19.
Police could have arrested the bishop any day after Aug. 7 had he failed to surrender to court and restore his bail, lawyers connected with the case told UCA News.
The bishop’s surrender to the court became imminent after the Supreme Court of India asked him on Aug. 5 to face trial. The court dismissed his discharge petition that pleaded innocence.
Bishop Mulakkal, accompanied by his lawyers, presented himself in the court and sought restoration of his bail, which was granted.
The court granted bail on sureties of 200,000 rupees (US$2,850) each from two guarantors and a self bond of another 200,000 rupees from the bishop.
The court also restrained the bishop not to leave the state until Aug. 13, when the case is scheduled for a hearing.
The bishop also agreed to be present in court without fail on dates fixed by the court for its trial.
The prosecutor said he did not oppose the bail after Bishop Mulakkal agreed to cooperate with the trial process without fail.
Meanwhile, some media suggested Bishop Mulakkal’s medical certificate showing him positive for Covid-19 was fake. But police in the bishop’s Punjab state said the certificate was genuine.
The bishop was forced to face the district court after the Supreme Court rejected his discharge petition. Earlier Kerala High Court and a district court also dismissed similar discharge applications that pleaded innocence.
The application claimed a 43-year-old nun complained against him with malafide intention following his differences with her. The nun is a former superior general of the Missionaries of Jesus, a diocesan congregation under his patronage in Jalandhar Diocese in northern India.
The Kerala-based nun complained to police in June 2018 that the bishop raped her 13 times from 2014-16. The crimes happened when the bishop visited her convent in the southern state, the petition said.