The Kerala High Court on Monday granted bail to Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of raping a nun multiple times at a convent in Kerala. The bail was issued on conditions, including asking the bishop not to enter Kerala after his release from the sub-jail in Kottayam and to surrender his passport. Bishop Franco Mulakkal has also been asked to present himself before the police every fortnight. He also has to appear before the probe officials as and when requested by them.
In a visible change in its stance compared to previous hearings, the prosecution did not object to the bishop's bail plea in the Kerala High Court on Monday. Bishop Mulakkal was arrested on September 21 amid mounting public outrage over allegations of repeatedly raping a nun. It was the first time in the country that a bishop was arrested. In her complaint to the Kottayam police in June, the nun had alleged that the priest raped her at a guest house at Kuravilangad in Kottayam between May 2014 and 2016. She said she had approached the police as the Church authorities did not act on her repeated complaints against the clergyman. However, the bishop has denied the charges.
Bishop Mulakkal had moved an anticipatory bail plea in the Kerala High Court prior to his arrest. Soon after the arrest, his remand was extended by the Pala magistrate court, rejecting his bail application. The magisterial court had remanded him to 12-day judicial custody on September 24.
Soon after, the Kerala High Court, had on October 3 rejected the bail plea of the bishop. The court dismissed the plea while accepting the prosecution argument that the accused, holding a high position in society, would try to influence witnesses in the case, if he was granted bail. The police had then argues that the investigation in the case was progressing even after the arrest of the accused.