Former Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who was arrested for allegedly raping a nun on multiple occasions between 2014 and 2016, was released from a sub-jail in Kerala’s Pala municipality on Tuesday. The High Court on Monday granted him conditional bail.
Several people, including independent MLA PC George, greeted the 54-year-old clergyman as he walked out of the prison. Some of his supporters even conducted prayer meetings in front of the jail before his release.
Mulakkal will visit his residence in Thrissur and later leave for Jalandhar, reported PTI. The High Court had told Mulakkal to leave Kerala within a day of his release and surrender his passport. He will only be allowed to enter Kerala for appearing before the investigating officer once in two weeks on Saturdays.
On September 21, the police arrested Mulakkal after three days of questioning and almost three months after the first charges were filed in the case. He has been lodged in the sub-jail since September 24. His judicial custody was extended till October 20 earlier this month, after the Kerala High Court on October 3 rejected his bail plea, citing prima facie evidence against him.
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.