The Kerala High Court on Wednesday rejected the bail plea of bishop Franco Mulakkal in the Kerala nun rape case. The court rejected the plea on the grounds that there is prima facie evidence against the bishop.
The court added that the allegations against the bishop are grave and that the investigation is still in the primary stage. The court also said that since he occupies a high position in the church, he can influence witnesses.
Franco Mulakkal will remain in judicial custody till October 6. On September 24, the Bishop filed an application seeking bail when he was produced in Pala Judicial Magistrate Court, which was also rejected by the magistrate.
Franco Mulakkal was arrested on September 21 after he was questioned for three days by the Kerala police. A nun from the Missionaries of Jesus (MJ) congregation had filed a complaint with the police in June alleging that the bishop had sexually assaulted her 13 times between 2014 and 2016 in the Kuruvilangad convent in Kerala.
Almost two months after lodging the complaint, five nuns from the convent -- Anupama, Josephine, Neena Rose and Anaitha sat on a protest in front of the Kerala high court alleging inaction by the police on the complaint. This sparked outrage across the state and the ensuing pressure from various quarters made Kerala police to issue summons to the bishop, asking him to appear for questioning on September 19.
After three days of questioning, he was finally arrested on September 21. According to the police, he was arrested since there was enough material to show that Bishop Franco Mulakkal had committed the crime. A day before he was arrested, the Apostolic Nunciature to India accepted his request to be relieved of his religious duties temporarily. Pope Francis also appointed the Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Bombay to take over the duties of Franco Mulakkal.