The HC said that there was enough evidence in the chargesheet for Bishop Franco to face a trial.

Kerala HC rejects Bishop Francos discharge petition in nun rape case
news Crime Tuesday, July 07, 2020 - 16:23

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday rejected Bishop Franco’s discharge petition in the case where he is accused of sexually assaulting a nun from the Missionaries of Jesus congregation in Kerala. 

The petition, which was once rejected by the trial court, pleaded that Franco be left out of the list of accused in the case, without having to face a trial. 

The High Court stated that Bishop Franco will have to face a trial in the case. The court did not accept the accused’s argument that the case does not hold water. It said that the evidence against Bishop Franco in the chargesheet is sufficient for a trial to be held against him. Based on this finding, the court rejected the petition. 

Bishop Franco’s counsel had in January submitted a discharge petition at the trial court in Kottayam. The petition was rejected by the court, following which Bishop Franco moved the Kerala High Court in response. According to a report by The Times of India, the reason cited by Franco’s counsel is that the charges in the case will not stand against Franco as the case was only based on the statements of witnesses who have resentment against him. On March 16, his plea filed before the Additional District and Sessions Court I, in Kottayam, Bishop Franco had claimed that prima facie there was no case to frame charges against him.

Bishop Franco is accused of sexually assaulting a nun of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation in Kuravilangad, Kottayam multiple times in the past. According to reports, Franco’s counsel had also earlier said that most of the witnesses in the case do not have a good relationship with the church. 

The move to submit a discharge petition is considered as a tactic employed by the rape accused Bishop to delay the trial. The hearing has already been delayed 11 times with the trial scheduled to take place on November 11 last year and then getting postponed to November 30. 

It further got postponed to January. However, in January, Bishop Franco moved the court asking for more time. 

Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who was arrested on September 21, 2018 on rape charges, got bail on October 16, 2018. The Kerala Police have filed a 1,400-page chargesheet against him. The chargesheet names 83 witnesses, including Cardinal of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Mar George Alencherry, three bishops, 11 priests and several nuns.