Kerala Court Issues Notice to Officer over His Comments on Verdict Acquitting Bishop Franco in Rape Case

 A Kerala court has issued notice to an IPS officer based on a complaint accusing him of issuing statements to media amounting to lowering the authority of the court in connection with its verdict acquitting Roman Catholic Bishop Franco Mulakkal of charges of raping a nun in a convent in the southern state.

Considering a plea filed by a person named Majeesh K Mathew from Ettumanoor, the Additional District Sessions Court 1, Kottayam, issued the notice to S Hari Sankar, Assistant Inspector General of Police, who is currently attached to the Police Headquarters, Thiruvananthapuram.

Hari Sankar, as the then Superintendent of Police, Kottayam, had led the special investigation team in the rape case.

In the order issued on March 10, Judge Sujith K N directed the officer to respond to the notice by April 1, 2023.

Hari Sankar, who had led the special investigation team in the rape case, had termed it as “very, very unfortunate” and “unnatural” the verdict acquitting Bishop Mulakkal of the charges of raping the nun.

In his plea, Mathew appealed to the court to refer the contempt proceedings against the serving officer to the Kerala High Court, as his statements to various media post verdict had lowered the authority of the court.

The Additional District and Sessions Court I, Kottayam, acquitted the bishop on January 14, 2022, as the prosecution failed to produce evidence against the accused.

Mulakkal, 57, was accused of raping the nun multiple times during his visit to a convent in this district between 2014 and 2016, when he was the Bishop of the Jalandhar diocese of the Roman Catholic church. The survivor is a member of the Missionaries of Jesus, a diocesan congregation under the Jalandhar Diocese.

The nun, who claims to have been raped by the Bishop has moved the Kerala High Court against his acquittal in the case by the trial court.

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