On 22 July 2017, the Kerala police arrested Kovalam MLA M Vincent following a rape charge, a mere three days after the victim raised the charges. A few days before that, in the actor abduction and molestation case, actor Dileep was arrested on July 10.
The charge was criminal conspiracy. Cut to July 2018 when five priests of the Malankara Orthodox Church were named by a member of the laity - the charges ranging from misuse of confessional confidences to rape. After recording her statement, the police moved swiftly. Not so in the case of Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who has been accused of rape by a senior nun from his own congregation.
In contrast to the other cases, the cops are coming up with all kinds of excuses. Almost 80 days have passed since the nun came out with her charge. The procedure is well laid out: To prove a rape charge, the accused should be arrested and produced before the court.
Then, cops should obtain custody of the accused from the court and conduct a medical examination, including a potency test. It was Bishop Franco who filed a complaint first claiming he was being blackmailed by the nun’s brother, but the cops have not been so lenient while dealing with similar cases in the past.
Consistent public pressure, with a section of nuns joining the protests, forced the police to finally summon Bishop Franco for questioning on September 19. The tide may finally be turning against the bishop as many fence-sitters are coming out in support of the nun, though it is still a trickle from the political space. But at a time when it was widely perceived the government had finally summoned the courage to stop waltzing around the issue came the Kerala High Court observation on Thursday that the investigation was moving in the right direction.
It remains to be seen what will pan out between September 19 and 24, the day the High Court has decided to review the progress of the case that has driven a wedge not only in the Christian community but the entire society.