Kochi (Kerala) [India], October 1 (ANI): The Kerala High Court on Thursday dismissed a petition filed by former Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused in the nun rape case, challenging the Kottayam Additional Session Court's order rejecting his plea for deferring the cross-examination of witnesses until the COVID-19 pandemic is brought under control.
Dismissing the petition, a single-bench of Justice VG Arun observed, "It is high time for us to accept this reality and move on with our affairs. In any case, the wheels of justice delivery system cannot be permitted to come to a grinding halt by reasons of the pandemic."
Mulakkal also pleaded to adjourn the cross examination by at least two months, which was also dismissed by the High Court.
The petition sought deferring the cross examination citing that the 73-year-old senior counsel would not be able to reach Kottayam to conduct the examination because of the pandemic.
Special Public Prosecutor submitted that the nature of allegation and personalities involved in the case demands that the trial of the case be concluded at the earliest. It was pointed out that the de facto complainant is being provided round the clock protection due to threat from various quarters, which is yet another reason to complete her cross-examination without delay.
The court directed the Sessions Court to consider the request to conduct the cross examination of the witnesses through video conferencing if the petitioner seeks so.
The sessions court had posted the case for examination of witnesses on October 5.
In June 2018, the nun, who is a member of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation based in Punjab, had complained to the police in Kottayam that Jalandhar Bishop had raped her several times between 2014 and 2016.
After several rounds of questioning, the special investigation team (SIT) of Kerala Police arrested him in September 2018. The SIT had filed the charge sheet against him last year. (ANI)