Kottayam: Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of raping a nun in Kerala, has tested positive for coronavirus.
Mulakkal's lawyer Mandeep Sachdeva and his family had tested positive for coronavirus infection in the first week of July. Mulakkal had visited the lawyer on June 29 and 30, making him a primary contact.
After Mulakkal failed to appear in court for 14 consecutive times, the Additional Sessions Court had issued a non-bailable warrant against the bishop. The case was also postponed to August 13.
Mulakkal's counsel, however, had informed the court that his client could not appear in court on Monday as he had been in self-quarantine due to his primary contact with a COVID-19 infected person in Jalandhar in Punjab, where he is currently based.
The prosecution countered the claim saying the place where he lived in Jalandhar was not a COVID-19 containment zone on July 1. The special prosecutor, appearing on behalf of the police, informed the court that Mulakkal was lying and was simply attempting to delay the proceedings in the case.
The Kerala High Court on July 7 had dismissed a petition seeking to discharge Mulakkal from the sexual assault case filed against him by the nun belonging to the order of Missionaries of Jesus.
It had directed the deposed Bishop of Jalandhar diocese to stand for trial in the rape case, which was registered on a complaint filed by the nun of the same diocese in Kerala.
The court dismissed the plea by the bishop, admitting the prosecution argument that there was prima facie evidence against Mulakkal in the rape case.
The senior priest of the Roman Catholic Church had filed the revision petition following the dismissal of his discharge plea by the trial court in Kottayam in March this year.
The rape case against the Bishop was registered by police in Kottayam district.
In her complaint to the police in June 2018, the nun had alleged that she was subjected to sexual abuse by the Bishop several times between 2014 and 2016 at a convent in Kottayam district in Kerala.
The 56-year-old was arrested following huge protests in Kerala and spent nearly 40 days in jail before he received bail. It was the first time in India that rape charges have been framed against a Catholic Bishop.