'Lack of evidence by prosecution led to acquittal of Bishop Franco'

In the 289-page judgment, Kottayam Additional Sessions Judge Gopakumar G concludes that there is no consistency in the statement of the victim

'Lack of evidence by prosecution led to acquittal of Bishop Franco'

Bishop Franco Mulakkal. File photo

Tribune News Service

Deepkamal Kaur

Jalandhar, January 15

Lack of proper evidences put forth by the prosecution and contradictory versions given by the complainant nun to different persons have led to the acquittal of Bishop Franco Mulakkal by the Kerala court.

In the 289-page judgment passed by Kottayam Additional Sessions Judge Gopakumar G, he concluded that there is no consistency in the statement of the victim.

“The grievance projected by her to the companion sisters was that the accused was taking retaliatory steps for not yielding to his sexual desires, whereas her version before the court was that she was forced to do sexual intercourse with the accused on 13 occasions. Prosecution has failed to give proper explanation for the inconsistent version.”

The court observed, “This is a case in which the grain and chaff are inextricably mixed up. There are exaggerations and embellishments in the version of the victim. She has also made every attempt to hide certain facts. It is also evident that the victim was swayed under the influence of others who had vested interest in the matter. The infighting, rivalry and group fights of the nuns, and the desire for power, position and control over the congregation is evident from the demand placed by the victim and her supporting nuns, who were ready to settle the matter if their demand for a separate region under the diocese of Bihar is accepted by the church.”

The court has taken a serious view of the fact that the prosecution has failed to produce the mobile phones. The order says, “The police could not seize the mobile phone used by the victim, which would have provided some input into the alleged vulgar messages sent by the accused. The laptop also was not subjected to scientific analysis, as it is claimed that the hard disk got damaged.”

On the medical examination of the victim, the order reads, “It is true that the hymen of the victim was found torn in her medical examination. But the defence contends that there was a complaint against the victim by her own cousin that she had indulged in sexual intercourse with her husband. Even if it is assumed that the complaint was false, from the mere fact that the victim’s hymen was found torn, penile penetration or forcible sexual intercourse cannot be inferred.”

The court observed, “As regards the complaint of the nun’s cousin, it is established that the accused had absolutely no role in the complaint. One cannot reach the conclusion that the inquiry ordered by the accused was part of his retaliatory measure for not yielding to his sexual demands, on the 14th occasion. It is quite natural for a person at the helm of the affairs to order inquiry into a complaint, when serious allegations of inchastity are raised against a nun, that too by her own cousin. There were other circumstances as well to order such an inquiry since it is established that the husband of her cousin had stayed at the convent for five days under the pretext of attending a convention.”

The court said, “It is doubtful as to why the victim’s cousin, who is a teacher, would malign the reputation of her husband, who is a lawyer practising at the Supreme Court, for a silly verbal brawl with the victim and her family. At any rate, she has not till date withdrawn her complaint. In the said circumstances, the inquiry ordered by the mother superior at the recommendation of the accused cannot be regarded as an act of vengeance, as alleged by the prosecution.”

“This court is unable to place reliance on the solitary testimony of the complainant nun to hold the accused guilty of the offences charged against him and accordingly acquitted the accused of the offences.”

Tribune Shorts


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