NEW DELHI — Save Our Sisters, a social forum formed to support nuns, has expressed renewed hope after a top court in the southern Indian state of Kerala said it would allow appeals of the acquittal of Bishop Franco Mulakkal in a nun rape case.
“We are glad that the high court has finally admitted the appeals,” Shaiju Antony, joint convener of SOS, told ucanews.com April 6.
Kerala High Court admitted the appeals filed by the accuser and the Kerala government April 5.
“It is a very strong case,” Antony said, while expressing the hope that the nun-accuser will get justice from the high court.
SOS was launched in 2018 after the nun filed a police complaint against Mulakkal, alleging he had raped her at the congregation’s convent in Kuravilangad in Kerala state during his many visits from 2014 to 2016. The nun is a former superior general of the Missionaries of Jesus, a diocesan congregation with Mulakkal as a patron.
It was the first time in the history of the Indian Catholic Church that a bishop had stood trial in court, accused of raping a nun.
Additional District and Sessions Judge G. Gopakumar acquitted Mulakkal Jan. 14 on grounds that the prosecution failed to prove the charges of rape and unnatural sex brought against him.
The nun filed her appeal in the high court March 28, and the Kerala government, as the prosecutor, approached the court two days later, paving the way for another legal battle challenging Mulakkal’s acquittal.
In its appeal, the prosecution said the trial court did not recognize the full weight of the evidence in the right perspective and misconstrued the facts and the law.
In her appeal, the nun maintained that “the trial court had not treated the evidence properly.” Instead of appreciating the evidence she had provided, it chose to ignore it and found fault with her statements, in clear violation of the Supreme Court of India’s orders in rape trials, she noted.
Mulakkal has denied all allegations and described them as the nun’s vendetta against him for ordering an investigation of her based on a complaint from her niece.