Roman Catholic bishop Franco Mulakkal, who faces allegations of raping a nun, received a rousing welcome from his supporters when he reached Jalandhar after being released on bail by a Kerala court.
Mulakkal smiled as followers showered rose petals on him. Till a few weeks ago, he held charge as the bishop of the Jalandhar diocese.
The bishop, who was escorted by Punjab police personnel, did not talk to the media.
He was granted conditional bail by the Kerala High Court on Monday, and released from a jail near Kottayam a day later.
He was arrested on September 21 after being accused of repeatedly raping and sexually abusing a nun between 2014 and 2016.
As the demands for his arrest grew, the Vatican temporarily relieved him of all pastoral responsibilities as the bishop of the Jalandhar Diocese of the Missionaries of Jesus.
While granting bail, the court had directed him to surrender his passport and not to enter home state Kerala except for appearing before the probe officer once in two weeks.
In her complaint to the Kottayam Police in June, the nun had alleged that Bishop Mulakkal raped her at a guest house in May 2014 and later sexually exploited her on several occasions.
The nun said in her complaint that she had to approach the police as the church authorities did not act on her repeated complaints.
Mulakkal, however, has denied the charges as “baseless and concocted,” insisting she levelled them as the Catholic order had rejected her demands for favours.