Nun rape: Accused clergyman moves Kerala HC for anticipatory bail

Kochi: A day ahead of his likely appearance before police, clergyman Franco Mulakkal, accused of raping a nun, Tuesday filed an anticipatory bail petition in the Kerala High Court claiming allegations against him were a “cooked up story to wreak vengeance”.
The Kerala High Court adjourned the hearing of the application for September 25 when it will hear the police version. When the plea came up for the hearing before Justice Raja Vijayaraghavan this afternoon, the petitioner did not seek any interim relief to thwart his possible arrest. Citing convention, legal experts said police may not arrest Mulakkal, who recently stepped aside as the bishop of the Jalandhar diocese, since his anticipatory bail plea is pending before the high court. However, police can still arrest him if it has sufficient evidence, they said.
Mulakkal filed the application this morning, claiming the allegations against him were a “cooked up story to wreak vengeance” and seeking pre-arrest bail. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Kerala Police has asked him to appear before it Wednesday.
In his plea, the 54-year-old clergyman has claimed the accusations by the nun, serving in a congregation under the Jalandhar diocese, is “wholly concocted and cooked up only to wreak vengeance for the actions taken by him on various complaints received against her”.
Claiming innocence, the bishop said the complaint was “nothing but a fictional story”. “The complaint is an afterthought and a vicious programme to bring down the applicant who is holding a very high post in the congregation,” the plea said. It said the bishop is “absolutely innocent” and has been “falsely implicated” in the case with an “ulterior motive and vexatious intention”. The plea alleged that the nun and her family members had warned Mulakkal of dire consequences if he continued to take adverse action against her. There were threats that he will be manhandled if he sets his foot in Kerala, the petition alleged.
Noting that the public relations officer attached to the Bishop’s House in Jalandhar had submitted a complaint to the district police chief of Kottayam about the threat to the clergyman, the petition claimed it was only after that the nun filed a “false” complaint before the Kottayam SP on June 26.
Mulakkal alleged that the nun had an illicit relationship with a relative and a complaint about it was received by her congregation –the Missionaries of Jesus.
Referring to the nun’s first statement to police, the cleric insisted there was no forcible sexual intercourse. The petition cited media reports to claim that in her statement recorded before a judicial magistrate under Section 164 CrPC the alleged victim had said she was not coerced into having sexual intercourse. “This crucial aspect needs to be considered along with the complaint made by her own cousin alleging the de facto complainant of having illicit relationship with her husband. “This crucial aspect casts serious suspicion on the credibility of the allegations raised by the de facto complainant,” the plea said.
Mulakkal had on Saturday handed over the administrative charge of the Jalandhar diocese to a senior priest. (PTI)

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