Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused in Kerala nun rape case, tests COVID-19 positive!

Former Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who has been accused of the Kerala nun rape case which shocked the nation, has been confirmed to have contracted to the COVID-19 viral infection, reports say.

The Bishop has been spelled positive for the virus through the result of the second test on July 13. Initially, he underwent COVID-19 testing on July 6 and it returned negative and the successive tested confirmed the infection, and incidentally, his bail was canceled by Kottayam Prinicipal sessions court in Kerala on Monday, directing the authorities to take the bishop under judicial custody. 

However, he underwent testing before being taken under custody and his result came positive on Monday. The accused Bishop has been in home quarantine in the Bishop Home in Civil Lines, Jalandhar after he had come in direct contact with the COVID-19 affected patient. The officials attached to the Civil Hospital in Jalandhar, where the bishop underwent testing, had confirmed that he has tested positive for the virus.

According to the reports, Kottayam Principal Sessions Court has canceled the Bishop's bail by citing that he failed to appear before the court for all 14 hearings connected to the case. The court has repealed the bail after it noted that the bishop has skipped the hearing on Monday. During the hearing, Bishop's counsel appeared before the court and claimed that his client was unable to appear because he was in quarantine.

He has been quarantined after the lawyer whom he met in Jalandhar to discuss the case was tested positive for the virus. The court has also observed that the accused skipped the hearing in July by disclosing a false assertion that he was stranded in the containment zone in Jalandhar, Punjab. However, the court was informed through the Jalandhar district administration that the area where the Bishop lives is not a containment zone. 

Based on the grounds that the accused has been delaying the trial, the court has canceled the bail and issued a non-bailable warrant against the accused and the court adjourned the hearing on August 13. According to the reports, the Bishop recently moved a discharge petition to the court seeking its directive to remove his name as an accused in the case. However, the court rejected his plea and said that the charge sheet has been filed and there is adequate evidence in the case against the accused.

The spokesperson of Jalandhar Diocese said that Bishop Franco had two long sessions of discussion with his counsel Mandeep Sachdeva on June 29 and 30 and two days after the session, counsel Sachdeva was tested positive for the virus following which the bishop has been under home quarantine since July 6.

Bishop Franco, who belongs to Jalandhar Diocese, has been booked for raping a 44-year-old nun from the Missionaries of Jesus Convent in Kuruvilangad, Kottayam in Kerala between 2014 to 2016. Five nuns of the congregation had protested against Bishop Franco and following the shocking development, he was arrested on September 21, 2018. However, within a month, he was awarded bail.