The senior Catholic priest accused of raping a nun in Kerala approached the Kerala High Court to seek protection from arrest. Franco Mulakkal's move comes a day before he has to appear before the police for questioning.
The priest's petition will be heard by the court on September 25.
Franco Mulakkal had also written to Pope Francis requesting for permission to step down temporarily as the bishop or head of the Diocese of Jalandhar, saying he needs to spend more time to fight his case.
In a letter dated September 16, he said he may have travel to Kerala several times and so he wants to hand over the responsibilities of the diocese temporarily. Franco Mulakkal had last week handed over administrative responsibility of the Jalandhar diocese to a junior priest in his absence ahead of his Kerala visit.
The nun in Kerala alleged that she was sexually abused by Franco Mulakkal 13 times between 2014 and 2016 during his visits to a convent in Kottayam district.
Under pressure from activists, women's groups and civil society over the Kerala nun rape case, the police last week decided to summon the priest for questioning. In Kochi, a group of nuns and activists continued their hunger strike protesting the delay in action against Franco Mulakkal. The protests have been going on for over 10 days. The sister the rape survivor joined the protesters in Kochi on Monday.
The top of Catholic priests in Kerala, the Kerala Catholic Bishop Council, dismissed the nuns' protest, saying it has "crossed all limits".
The nun petitioned the Vatican, alleging that the bishop is using "political and money power" to bury the case. A representative from the Vatican is already in India to discuss the issue with Archbishop of Delhi Anil Couto. The Archbishop is yet to take a decision in the matter.
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