Even as trial in the case of rape against former Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal is yet to begin, protesting nuns of the Missionaries of Jesus have raised allegations of evidence tampering.
Sister Anupama who heads the group has alleged that fresh DVD copies of the cyber-forensic reports from the Forensic Science Laboratory which were submitted to the court and investigating officials were different from the original copy.
"In the copy sent from the laboratory to the investigating officers, 2 of the 3 files were missing. These files contained Bishop Franco's phone and laptop records. The original DVD copy which the judicial first class magistrate in Pala, Kottayam, had retained contained all details and we discovered this discrepancy when we perused both copies," she told TNM. The incident came into focus when both sets of the DVD copies were being perused by the magistrate in order to hand over a DVD copy to the counsel of the accused.
The discrepancy, sister Anupama suspects, is a deliberate attempt to further delay the trial in the case.
"Bishop Franco's counsel kept filing petitions requesting to access a copy of the DVD from the Forensic Science Laboratory's investigation. This and now the discovery of evidence dilution, I believe, is a deliberate attempt by the accused to weaken the case against him. The court has now ordered the FSL (Forensic Science Laboratory) to furnish the entire copy of the DVD with all contents to the investigating officers," Sister Anupama added.
Speaking to local media, she also said that if the laboratory did not furnish the entire evidence to the investigating officers, she would lodge a complaint against the Thiruvananthapuram based institute.
In September last year, 5 nuns of the Missionaries of Jesus convent in Kuruvilangad, including sister Anupama, staged a sit-in protest to get rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal arrested. Bishop Franco was accused of raping their colleague, and former Mother Superior of the convent multiple times between 2014 and 2016.