A church in Jalandhar, which claims to have conducted internal investigation in the alleged rape case of a nun, has come out in support of the bishop saying Bishop Franco Mulakkal is innocent.

The Missionaries of Jesus of Jalandhar went on to say that the nun, who accused the bishop of raping her on multiple occasions, has conspired against him.

“The nun who has complained against the bishop has conspired in connivance with nine others, including five nuns, against the bishop,” the Church body said in a statement.

The church added that the nuns have been influenced by some other people to do this.

This has come a day after Kerala High Court said that the Bishop was not required to be arrested.

On Thursday, the HC expressed satisfaction in the ongoing probe as it 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”.

Apart from hearing two petitions on the case, it also heard a third petition seeking a Central Bureau Investigation (CBI) probe into it, and said that at present that would not be granted and posted the matter for next hearing on 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.

A Division Bench headed by the Chief Justice Hrishikesh Roy after going through the affidavit of the Kerala Police probe team said that it was not proper to put pressure on the police as it could create hindrance to a free probe.

A Kerala nun has accused Mulakkal of repeatedly sexually abusing her between 2014 and 2016. There are five other nuns of the same congregation who has supported her claim.

On Thursday, Kottayam Superintendent of Police Harishankar who is leading the probe told the media that variations and contradictions have been found in the statements that have been 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)