The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Kerala Police to file a status report within two weeks on the investigation into the sexual abuse charges against four Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church priests, reported Bar and Bench.

Two of the accused, who had moved the court seeking anticipatory bail, will not be arrested till August 6 when the bench will hear the case next. “What is happening in Kerala, priests are becoming accused in rape cases,” the Supreme Court bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan observed, according to PTI.

Three weeks ago, the Kerala Police Crime Branch had booked four priests of the church on charges of raping and molesting a 34-year-old woman. On July 11, the Kerala High Court dismissed anticipatory bail pleas filed by three of them. Two of them – Father Sony Verghese and Father Jaise K George – then approached the Supreme Court, which reserved its order on July 19.

Meanwhile, the National Commission of Women recommended that the practice of confessions in churches should be abolished. The priests of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church have been accused of blackmailing and sexually abusing a 34-year-old woman for three years. In a letter to the church in June, the woman’s husband claimed that the priests used his wife’s confession, which is meant to be a secret under church laws, to blackmail her.

“The priests pressure women into telling their secrets and we have one such case in front of us, there must be many more such cases and what we have right now is just a tip of the iceberg,” Acting NCW chief Rekha Sharma told PTI.