Thiruvananthapuram: The shocking case of an Indian bishop allegedly raping a nun 13 times took another turn for the worse for the Catholic Church on Monday, with a local court in Pala in Kottayam district directing that the bishop be remanded in judicial custody until October 6.
Franco Mulakkal, the bishop of Jalandhar in Punjab state, is alleged to have raped the nun at a convent in Kuravilangad in Kottayam district in Kerala.
The bishop rejected the allegation, but after investigations that stretched nearly three months, the Kerala police arrested him on Friday, and a local court sent him to police custody until Monday.
The magistrate court in Pala on Monday directed that the bishop be kept in judicial custody until October 6. Police said he would be moved to the Pala sub-jail.
The bishop still has hope that the high court where he has submitted a bail application, will consider it favourably.
The magistrate court’s decision underscores the success of a gritty battle fought by a group of nuns who held a fortnight-long protest near the high court in Kochi, demanding the bishop’s arrest. The nuns stood solidly behind their allegedly victimised colleague, demanding that she be given justice.
While a number of social activists and a sprinkling of Catholic priests and nuns supported their agitation, the Catholic Church maintained silence, opting not to suspend the bishop, preferring instead for the law to take its course.
The alleged victim had earlier written to her higher-ups, to the nuncio of the Vatican in New Delhi, and to the Vatican, but when she did not get an encouraging response from anywhere, she approached the police.
On Sunday, the bishop was taken by police to the Kuravilangad convent as part of the investigation. He was taken to Room 20 of the convent, where he is alleged to have raped the nun.
The bishop’s case has caused a ruckus within the Catholic Church in Kerala, and protest marches have been taken out against the bishop in different parts of the state.
The church added to the rising resentment among the laity on Sunday by banning a nun, Lucy Kalappura, who had taken part in the protest against the bishop, from carrying out liturgical duties like teaching catechism. Kalappura belongs to the Mananthavady diocese.