The Kerala government on Wednesday filed an appeal before the High Court challenging the verdict of a trial court acquitting former bishop Franco Mulakkal in a case related to raping a nun, PTI reported. The nun also moved the High Court on Monday, according to The News Minute.
In June 2018, the nun had filed a complaint claiming that she was sexually abused by Mulakkal between 2014 and 2016 when he was the bishop of the Jalandhar diocese of Roman Catholic Church.
Mulakkal had accused the nun of seeking revenge for ordering an inquiry into a complaint against her. He was removed from his post after the allegations.
Judge G Gopakumar of the Kottayam Additional District and Sessions Court acquitted him on January 14.
In its appeal on Wednesday, filed by Additional Public Prosecutor P Narayanan, the state government argued that the judge “misconstrued facts” and “gave unwarranted acquittal to the accused”.
The prosecution also argued that the trial court’s judgement was “patently wrong, manifestly erroneous and totally perverse”.
The judge had ruled that the woman’s statement was “inconsistent” and raised questions on her credibility. In his 289-page verdict, the judge added that the nun’s claim that she had been raped on 13 occasions under duress cannot be relied on the basis of her solitary testimony.
The prosecution, however, has argued that every attempt was made to discredit the complainant by wrongly considering the evidence.
“The initial reluctance of the victim of rape, more so when she is a nun staying in a cloistered atmosphere for years together to give the minutest details regarding the traumatic incidents in her previous statements were brushed aside by the learned judge to acquit the accused,” the state’s appeal said, according to Live Law.
A Special Investigation Team was formed in June 2018 to inquire into the allegations against Mulakkal. He was subsequently arrested.
The trial in the case started in November 2019 and concluded on January 10. Of the 83 witnesses of the prosecution, 39 were examined during the trial.
In August 2020, a court in Kerala had framed charges against the bishop including repeated rape, misuse of authority, punishment for wrongful confinement and use of criminal intimidation to outrage the modesty of a woman, among other sections of the Indian Penal Code.