New Delhi, August 5: A petition by Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of raping a nun several times between 2014 and 2016 in Kerala, seeking to clear rape charges against him, was dismissed by the Supreme Court today. He will now have to face trial in the rape case.

“You don’t have a case and there is no merit in your petition,” Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said as a top court bench headed by the Chief Justice heard Mulakkal’s petition, NDTV reported.

Mulakkal in his petition to the Supreme Court said he has been implicated in the case and questioned the financial dealings of the nun. The 43-year-old nun had filed a complaint with Kerala’s Kottayam Police in June 2018. The bishop said he is innocent and wants him be freed from the case.

Both the Kerala High Court and the trial court had dismissed Mulakkal’s plea to clear the charges against him and directed him to face trial. The nun is a member of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation based in Punjab.

A special investigation team (SIT) of the Kerala Police arrested Mulakkal in September 2018 after several rounds of questioning. He was freed on bail after 40 days.

Mulakkal was removed as the Jalandhar bishop after the rape allegations surfaced. The SIT has filed a chargesheet against him. The trial was scheduled to start on November 11 last year, but it was put off till November 30. It was again deferred to January 6 this year after Mulakkal sought more time. Later, he filed a discharge plea in the trial court in Kottayam, seeking to clear charges against him, claiming that the rape survivor implicated him after he took action against her for financial irregularities in the convent.

On July 1, Mulakkal skipped a hearing at the Kottayam additional district court on the grounds that his house was in a coronavirus containment zone. The public prosecutor then pointed out the area was not a containment zone and that it was a deliberate attempt to delay the case.

The bishop has been charged with rape, wrongful confinement, unnatural offence and criminal intimidation. The nun has said she had to approach the police after church authorities did not act on her repeated complaints. She and other nuns living in the same hostel had repeatedly complained of intimidation and pressure from church authorities. The nuns have alleged the church was trying to separate them from the survivor.

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