A Kerala court on Friday, 14 January, acquitted Bishop of Jalandhar Diocese Franco Mulakkal, accused of raping a 44-year-old nun.
The verdict was delivered by Additional Sessions Judge G Gopakumar.
It was alleged, in the case, that Mulakkal had raped a nun from the Missionaries of Jesus convent in Kuravilangad, Kottayam between 2014 and 2016.
"We were expecting the accused to be punished. We've already decided to hold a meeting of the probe and prosecution team and we will be moving for appeal," Kottayam SP Harishankar, who led the probe, told news agency ANI.
Mulakkal's lawyer CS Ajayan, meanwhile, told ANI: "Prosecution miserably failed to prove their case. During cross-examination, their evidence proved to be false, not even a convincing medical certificate was produced by prosecution."
The trial in this case began in November 2019 and was finally completed on 10 January 2022.
The survivor, in the case, had alleged that Franco raped her 13 times during his visits to the convent between 2014 and 2016.
The allegations became public for the first time in July 2018 when a collective called ’Save Our Sisters’ launched public protests, demanding Franco’s arrest.
On 21 September 2018, following sustained protests by five nuns from the congregation, the Bishop was finally arrested on charges of rape. He was granted bail on 16 October 2018, but his bail was revoked on 13 July 2020, after he failed to turn up for a slew of hearings.
(With inputs from LiveLaw and The News Minute.)