PALA: The Pala Judicial First Class Magistrate Court (JFMC), which was hearing the Kerala nun’s rape complaint against Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the Jalandhar diocese, posted the matter for further hearing to June 7. A copy of the chargesheet and other documents were handed over to the accused. It also accepted Mullakal's request to extend his bail.
Bishop Franco Mulakkal appeared before the court on Friday, following the summons issued by the court after accepting the charge sheet submitted by the special investigation team (SIT).
The accused arrived at the court accompanied by a few priests from Pala at around 10:20 am. Bishop also spoke to a group of women, who came to the court from Alappuzha to meet him.
Before coming to the court, Bishop Franco visited St Alphonsa Pilgrim centre, Bharanganam at 9.30 am and offered special prayers at the tomb of St Alphonsa, presenting a dairy at the tomb, which is to be submitted at the court. According to him, the diary contains all the things he has to present before the judiciary. At the tomb, he also prayed for truth to prevail.
It is learnt that the JFMC will commit the case to the Principal Sessions Court, Kottayam, taking into account the nature and gravity of the crime. The trial will be conducted in the Principal Sessions Court and the accused will be sent another court summons before that.
The charge sheet submitted by the SIT runs to over 2000 pages and includes three volumes.
The bishop has been arraigned as an accused in the case under IPC sections 342 (wrongful confinement), 376 (2k) (rape on a woman incapable of giving consent), 376 (2n) (causing grievous bodily harm during rape), 376 (c) (a) 377 (unnatural offence), 506 (1) (criminal intimidation) IPC Sections). If proven guilty, the Bishop may get a punishment of life imprisonment or minimum imprisonment of not less than ten years.
Along with the chargesheet, the SIT also submitted 101 documents before the court. It has listed about 83 witnesses including Major Archbishop Cardinal George Alencherry, Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt of Pala diocese, Bhagalpur Bishop Kurian Valiyakandathil and Bishop Sebastian Vadakkel of the diocese of Ujjain. The seven magistrates, who recorded the statements of witnesses, will also turn up as witnesses in the case.