The Kerala High Court on Thursday expressed satisfaction over the police investigation in the case of alleged rape of a nun by a Roman Catholic bishop, and in a relief for the accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal, the court said “arrest is not the issue”.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Hrishikesh Roy and A K Jayasankaran Nambiar was considering three separate petitions alleging that the police investigation in the case against Jalandhar diocese Bishop Franco Mulakkal was “ineffective”.
The court observed that since it was an old case, the probe and the investigation would take time and “not the arrest but final punishment of the accused is more important”.
One of the petitioners sought a CBI probe into the case. Asking the petitioners to have some patience as shown by the nun in the case, the bench said the petitions would be considered after interrogation of the bishop by the Investigation Team on September 19. It then posted the case for September 24.
Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the Roman Catholic Diocese in Jalandhar has been served a notice to appear before the probe team on September 19.
Earlier, Director General of Prosecution handed over the report of investigation to the court in a sealed cover.
The police informed the high court that sufficient protection would be provided to the nun.
The arrest of the bishop can be made only after his interrogation, they said.
The police further submitted that there were contradictions in the statements of the victim, witnesses and the bishop, and therefore, the priest needed to interrogated further.
The nuns supporting the victim expressed their disappointment over the court’s observation.
“We now feel that the probe might be swept under the carpet. Even the court is also denying us justice,” said a nun after hearing the court’s observations on Thursday.
A Division Bench headed by the Chief Justice Hrishikesh Roy after going through the affidavit of the Kerala Police probe team said it was not proper to put pressure on the police as it could create hindrance to a free probe.
The Kerala nun has accused Mulakkal of repeatedly sexually abusing her between 2014 and 2016.
On Thursday, Kottayam Superintendent of Police Harishankar who is leading the probe told the media that variations and contradictions had been found in the statements taken from several people connected with the case.
“I would not say that this has been done on purpose. However, taking into account that the case is four years old, it might be difficult to recall things correctly. There are discrepancies in documents and facts that have now come up and hence we have expanded the probe team,” said Harishankar.
An FIR was registered against the bishop and a 114-page detailed statement was taken from the nun and other inmates of the convent.
(With agency inputs)