A woman consoles a nun during a protest demanding justice, in Kochi. (Reuters Photo)
KERALA POLICE Friday registered a case against Jalandhar-based Missionaries of Jesus after it issued a media release with a photograph of the nun who had accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who belongs to the the congregation, of rape.
Kottayam SP Hari Sankar said police registered the case on a complaint from the nun’s brother under Section 228 (A) of the IPC, which deals with disclosure of a rape victim’s identity. Kerala Women’s Commission chairperson M C Josephine said legal action should be taken against those who circulated the photo. “Exemplary action should be taken against those who tried to insult the victim. The commission will also look into this matter,” she said.
The release and the photograph, which shows the complainant sitting beside the bishop and some others at a function three years ago, was issued by the congregation’s public relations officer, Sister Amala.
The release stated that the photograph should be published without revealing the complainant’s face and identity, and that the congregation would not be responsible for media violating rules. Sister Amala was not available for comment.
Sister Anupama, one of the five nuns from the congregation protesting in Kochi demanding justice for the victim and arrest of the Bishop, said legal action should be taken against those who “tried to insult” their colleague. In its press release, the congregation claimed its internal probe had revealed that the allegation against the Bishop was baseless and that the complainant had entered into a “conspiracy with atheists”.
Citing the photo, it claimed that on May 23, 2015, the complainant attended an event with permission from the congregation in which the Bishop had participated. There were several such incidents in which the nun attended programmes of the Bishop during the alleged period of sexual abuse between 2014 and 2016, the congregation claimed.
Referring to the first alleged instance of rape at the congregation’s mission house in Kottayam on May 5, 2014, the release claimed the Bishop had not stayed at the facility that day. After dinner he moved to another convent, and evidence in this regard would be handed over to the probe team, it said.
Meanwhile, Jalandhar police said that they served summons received from Kerala Police to Bishop Mulakkal in the case. The summons, asking the Bishop to appear for questioning on September 19, was served on the behalf of DySP K Subhash, who is heading Kerala Police’s investigation in the case.