A court in Kerala on Saturday extended the judicial custody of Bishop Franco Mulakkal for 14 days till October 20, reported The News Minute. Mulakkal is accused of raping a nun from a congregation in his diocese on multiple occasions between 2014 and 2016.
Mulakkal, lodged in a sub-jail in Pala since September 24, was produced before the Pala Judicial Magistrate Court in Kottayam as his judicial custody ended on Saturday. Earlier this week, the Kerala High Court rejected his bail plea, citing prima facie evidence against him.
However, Mulakkal’s counsel said they will approach the High Court and seek bail again in the coming days.
On September 21, the police arrested Mulakkal after three days of intense questioning and almost three months after the first charges were filed in the case. On September 24, Mulakkal was remanded to police custody until October 6.
Mulakkal’s lawyers have argued that the case against the former bishop is fabricated and in retaliation to the action he took against the nun on a separate complaint.
In June, the police filed charges against Mulakkal after a nun in the Missionaries of Jesus congregation filed a complaint accusing him of raping her 13 times between 2014 and 2016 in Kottayam. The congregation is based in Punjab’s Jalandhar district but it runs two convents in Kerala – in Kottayam and Kannur. The alleged abuse took place in Kottayam.
Mulakkal has repeatedly denied the charges and accused the nun of taking revenge on him for ordering an inquiry into a complaint against her. He filed a complaint against the complainant and five other nuns, accusing them of framing him. The bishop claimed that there were “several contradictions” in the evidence collected by the police.
The Missionaries of Jesus has said its internal investigation found Mulakkal to be innocent. The organisation has also attempted to malign the complainant repeatedly, and had once claimed that she was in a relationship with a taxi driver. Nuns of the organisation have also accused the state police of showing bias against the bishop.