Transfer of top cops may affect Bishop Franco case

There are 90 witnesses and they should be presented before the court whenever the prosecution demands.

Published: 13th June 2019 03:28 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th June 2019 03:28 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

KOTTAYAM: The marching orders issued to Vaikom DySP K Subhash and Kottayam district police chief (DPC) Hari Sankar, the investigating officer and the monitoring authority respectively in the investigation into the rape case against Bishop Franco Mulakkal, former head of the Latin diocese of Jalandhar, have kicked up a controversy with the victim and the prime witnesses coming out against the decision. 

Hari Sankar was transferred as the police chief of Kollam rural, while Subhash has been posted in Vigilance department in Thodupuzha. In the wake of the controversy, it is reliably learnt that the State Police Chief decided to retain Subhash in Kottayam district itself. Details including his place and position will be decided later. 

It is learnt DGP’s decision came after a recommendation placed by Hari Sankar through Kochi Range IG Vijay S Sakhare to give posting to Subhash anywhere in the same district as the presence of the investigating officer in the court all along the trial is essential in effectively handling the case. 

While the victim and the fellow nuns at the St Francis Mission Home, Kuravilangad, alleged the transfer of the DPC and the investigating officer, ahead of the commencement of trial, is part of a conspiracy to sabotage the case, legal experts say the move is expected to affect the future course of the case. “We have deep concern and fear over the transfer of the investigating officer as the trial in the case is about to commence. He has been transferred outside the district. The DPC has been shifted when he completed one year in office. We doubt all these are part of a move to sabotage the case and the trial,” said Sr Anupama, one of the witnesses. 

Hari Sankar and Subhash, who investigated the nun’s rape complaint against the bishop, had ensured a foolproof inquiry, leading to the arrest of the accused. It is the first case in the state in which the Witness Protection Scheme (WPS), laid down by the Supreme Court in December 2018, was implemented to ensure security of prime witnesses. As per the scheme, a committee chaired by the District Judge with the DPC and district government pleader as its members, ordered to provide special protection to Sr Lissy Vadakkel, one of the prime witnesses. Police protection was given to four nuns at St Francis Mission Home - Anupama Kelamangalathuveliyil, Alphi Pallasseril, Josephine Villoonnickal and Nina Rose - who were arraigned as witnesses, following a special initiative by Hari Sankar. 

“There is no doubt the DPC and the investigating officer took a lot of effort to bring the accused before the law. Transferring both the officers will definitely affect the trial. There are 90 witnesses and they should be presented before the court whenever the prosecution demands. This process will be affected when the new officers, unaware of the developments in the case, take charge,” said a lawyer on condition of anonymity. 

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