KOTTAYAM: In a significant legal process in the rape complaint filed by a Catholic nun against the former head of Jalandhar diocese, Bishop Franco Mulakkal, the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court in Pala on Monday committed the case to the Kottayam Principal Sessions Court to commence trial, after completing preliminary proceedings.
Legal experts said the Sessions Court may hear the case directly or transfer it to an additional district sessions courts. The trial court will summon Franco before commencing trial. Though the probe team had submitted the chargesheet in the JFMC, Pala, the court transferred it to the Sessions Court taking into account the gravity of the case and quantum of punishment that may have to be awarded.
While the JFMC had summoned the accused on May 10 and handed over copies of the chargesheet and other documents, proceedings to transfer the case got delayed as the defence counsel demanded more documents and said some documents were illegible. With the defence counsel continuing to demand more documents, the court issued strict direction to submit the defendant’s final opinion during Monday’s sitting.
The differences found in the contents of the DVDs submitted by the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL), Thiruvananthapuram, to the Pala JFMC and the probe team also created troubles. The team then collected fresh copies of the DVDs from FSL having scientific evidence and handed them over to the defendants. It was on June 27, 2018 that the victim nun, currently residing at St Francis Mission Home, Kuravilangad, had approached the District Police Chief, Kottayam, with a complaint against Franco.
As per the prosecution, Franco had raped her and forced her to have unnatural sex on many occasions between 2014 and 2017.