Nun rape case: SC rejects Bishop Franco’s review petition to remove him as accused

Bishop Franco moved the Supreme Court challenging the Kerala High Court order dismissing his discharge petition.
Bishop Franco Mulakkal
Bishop Franco Mulakkal
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The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal’s review petition, challenging a Kerala High Court order that had dismissed his discharge petition. A bench comprising Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian rejected the Bishop’s petition, in which he sought to review the HC order to discharge his name as the accused in the case. The apex court also dismissed a plea by the Bishop’s counsel, requesting for an oral hearing in open court.

“We do not find any error in the order impugned, much less an apparent error on the face of the record, so as to call for its review,” stated the order dismissing Franco’s review petition.

In July 2020, the Kerala High Court had dismissed Bishop Franco’s petition asking for his name to be removed the list of accused in the case of sexually assaulting a nun at the Missionaries of Jesus. 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.

Prior to this, the trial court, too, had rejected the Bishop’s discharge summary requesting to remove him from the case. It was after this that he moved the Kerala High Court.

Bishop Franco was accused of raping a nun between 2014 and 2016. In her police complaint in 2018, the nun said that she was subjected to sexually assaulted several times.

The bishop, who was arrested by the Special Investigation Team that probed the case in 2018, has been charged under sections 342 (wrongful confinement), 376 (2k) (rape on a woman incapable of giving consent), 376 (2n) (causing grievous bodily harm during rape), 376 (c) (a) 377 (unnatural offence) and 506 (1) (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.

In August 2018, the nuns went on a protest demanding the arrest of the Bishop. After several days of protesting near the Kerala High Court, the police finally recorded Bishop Franco’s arrest.

In February 2020, another nun from Kerala accused Bishop Franco of sexual harassment, including sending her lewd messages. The second nun, too, belongs to the Missionaries of Jesus, the same congregation as the first nun who accused Bishop Franco of raping her. 

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