The Kerala police on Wednesday issued a notice to Jalandhar bishop Franco Mulakkal, who has been accused of rape by a nun, and asked him to be present before the investigation team on September 19.
The decision to summon the clergyman was taken after a meeting chaired by inspector general of police Vijay Sakhare, IG (Ernakulam range), which was also attended by Kottayam district superintendent of police Harisankar and Vaikom deputy superintendent of police K Subhash amid mounting pressure on police to initiate action against Mulakkal.
Mulakkal has been accused of rape and unnatural sex with the complainant multiple times between 2014 and 2016, but has rejected the charges as “baseless and concocted”. “If I am found guilty, which I am not, I am likely to be punished... I will appear before police if I am summoned. I am a law-abiding citizen,” he had said, adding that he had the right to take legal recourse.
Terming the allegations against him “serious”, the bishop had said only three persons knew the truth. "The complainant's sister, myself and God (know the truth)," he said.
The bishop also accused the nun of "blackmailing" him. "In the first letter she (nun) wrote to Mother Superior, she made some demands...she wanted Bihar (church) to be treated as a separate region and that she be re-instated as Superior of the House... it is a clear case of blackmailing," he asserted.
Hitting out at those protesting against him, Mulakkal said, “Many derogatory statements are being made against me... Is anyone bothered? I am an individual and also a citizen... though I am an accused, but that does not give anyone the licence to tarnish my character," he said.
The bishop’s reaction followed the complainant nun’s petition to the Vatican representative in India, alleging that the clergyman was using "political and money power" to bury the case and sought his removal from the post.
In a letter to Giambattista Diquattro, Vatican's Apostolic Nuncio (a diplomatic mission), the nun said she had turned to the Church authorities for justice. She alleged that by continuing in the position of Jalandhar diocese, Mulakkal and his close associates "are using the wealth of the diocese to divert" the course of the police investigation.
Meanwhile, Congress leader VM Sudheeran on Wednesday asked Mullakal to step down and face legal proceedings. Speaking at a 'People's Gathering' in Thiruvananthapuram to express solidarity with some nuns who are staging a dharna in Kochi demanding the priest’s arrest, former KPCC president Sudheeran said no one was above the law. It was not possible to cover up the truth, Sudheeran said, adding that their protest was not against the church.