KOCHI: The Special Investigation Team probing Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who is accused in the nun rape case, filed the chargesheet against him before the judicial magistrate court in Pala on Tuesday. The chargesheet reportedly running over 2,000 pages was filed by the investigation team lead by Vaikom deputy superintendent of police K Subhash.
The police have charged five major offences, including rape charge against bishop Mulakkal. Apart from IPC Section 376 (2k) (rape of a woman incapable of giving consent), the other charges against the Bishop include, 376 (c) (a), 377 (unnatural offence), 376 (2n) (causing grievous bodily harm during rape), 506 (1) (criminal intimidation), and 342 (wrongful confinement).
The prosecution will be producing as many as 83 witnesses in the case, which include Syro-Malabar Church Major Archbishop Cardinal George Alencherry, Pala Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt, Bhagalpur Bishop Kurian Valiyakandathil and Bishop Sebastian Vadakkel of the diocese of Ujjain. There are also 25 nuns and 11 priests as the witnesses. Along with the charge sheet, 101 documents related to the case and a laptop and some mobile phones will also be submitted before the court.
There was a widespread protest against the investigation team in delaying the submission of the charge sheet. However, the police said it was to avoid any lapse in the final charge sheet. The final charge sheet was circulated among district police chief Hari Sankar, Ernakulam Range IG Vijay S Sakhare and finally to the DGP, Loknath Behra before submitting in the court. Jithesh J Babu will appear for prosecution in the case.
According to the police, strict steps were taken to prevent the witnesses from turning hostile. All the statements of all witnesses were videographed. Unlike the usual procedure, a detailed reference of all the evidence found against the accused during the investigation of the case was submitted in a report along with the charge sheet.
IPC Section 376 (2k) (rape of a woman incapable of giving consent) 376 (c) (a), 377 (unnatural offence), 376 (2n) (causing grievous bodily harm during rape), 506 (1) (criminal intimidation), and 342 (wrongful confinement)
List of witnesses
Syro-Malabar Church Major Archbishop Cardinal George Alencherry, Pala Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt, Bhagalpur Bishop Kurian Valiyakandathil and Bishop Sebastian Vadakkel of the diocese of Ujjain
The five nuns residing at St Francis Mission Home, Kuravilangad, who were at the forefront of the protest demanding the arrest of Bishop Franco Mulakkal in the nun rape case, expressed their satisfaction over the charge sheet filed by the Kerala Police on Tuesday.
“We are glad the Kerala Police have finally submitted the charge sheet after seven months of Bishop Franco’s arrest,” said Sr Anupama, one among the five nuns.
“Though the accused in this case is powerful with the money, wherewithal and capability to circumvent the law, we fully place our trust in the law of the land and have full faith the court will deliver justice,” she said.
Last month, the five nuns had met Kottayam District Police Superintendent Hari Sankar with a petition seeking to expedite the procedure to submit the charge sheet in the case before the court.
“We had given indications to the officials if the filing of charge sheet was to get delayed further, we would be staging a protest against the delay. As of now, we are satisfied with the investigation conducted by the police,” said Anupama.
The Save Our Sisters (SOS) Action Council, which has spearheaded the protests against Bishop Franco, had announced its intent to launch fresh protests if the police failed to file the charge sheet in time.