Kochi, Oct 03: Kerala High Court today rejected the bail plea of Jalandhar ex-bishop Franco Mulakkal, arrested in connection with the rape of a nun on September 21.
Counsel for Franco argued that the charges were false and a result of vendetta, following official action against the nun.
However, the court felt there was prima facie evidence against Franco. It accepted the argument of the prosecution that given the gravity of the case and that he can tamper with evidence and influence witnesses and denied him bail.
Franco had earlier moved the court seeking anticipatory bail before he came to Kerala for quizzing by the probe team. However, the court deferred hearing to September 25.
But after interrogation, Franco was arrested and remanded in police custody for two days. Later, he was remanded in judicial custody and lodged in Pala sub-jail.
In between, Franco moved the High Court on September 27 seeking regular bail after the first class judicial magistrate court rejected his application. The High Court had reserved its order to October 3.
Franco has been receiving a host of visitors in jail. They included former minister and Kerala Congress leader KM Mani, Kanjirappally bishop Mar Mathew Arackal and auxiliary bishops Mar Jose Pulickal and Malankara Samuel Mar Irenios. Mathew Arackal sympathised with Franco and even equated him with Jesus.
Separately, pressure was there on the nuns at the Missionaries of Jesus convent at Kuruvilangad where the victim nun was staying along with her colleagues who came out publicly demanding arrest of Franco.
The visit of Fr Nicholas Maniparambil of Kodanad parish to the convent recently with the escort of a murder accused Saji Mookkannur broke controversy recently. Saji Mookkannur is an accused in the murder of Thommi alias Thomas in 2011 hiring the services of a Chennai-based quotation team, was in custody for 60 days. He was the driver for Fr Nicholas, who later said he was not aware of Saji's antecedents.
Sr Anupama who led the protest of the nuns, said the visit was to influence the nuns. But they would stand firm on their charges.