The Kerala High Court on Tuesday issued notice to former Bishop of the Jalandhar Diocese, Franco Mulakkal in the State government's appeal against his acquittal in the nun rape case [State of Kerala represented by Public Prosecutor v Bishop Franco Mulakkal].A Division Bench of Justices K Vinod Chandran and C Jayachandran admitted the appeal and issue notice to Mulakkal. .In its appeal, the prosecution has argued that Mulakkal's acquittal was a result of a failure to "separate the chaff from the grain" and appreciate the evidence in the correct perspective. The survivor nun has also approached the High Court in appeal against the trial courts acquittal of Mulakkal. She is represented by Senior Advocate S Sreekumar. .On January 14, a Kerala court had acquitted former Bishop of the Jalandhar Diocese, Franco Mulakkal, accused of repeatedly raping a nun.Additional Sessions Judge, Kottayam, G Gopakumar, had delivered the highly awaited verdict running into 289 pages.The judgment said that there was no evidence against the bishop except the testimony of the victim.The testimony of the victim, the Court said, was inconsistent and were riddled with variations posing questions on her credibility.The entire case was built around some obscene messages sent by the accused to the phone of the victim but the mobile phones of the victim and that prosecution witness to whom the victim forwarded the messages from the accused were not produced, the trial court had noted.According to the court, the allegations were an outcome of factional feud within the church due to which Mulakkal had rivals, as well as in-fighting among the sisters within the congregation and the desire of power and position of the complainant/ prosecutrix over the congregation..The 50-year-old nun had rocked the Catholic establishment, not just in Kerala, but across the country, when she levelled allegations against Mulakkal in 2018.It was alleged that the nun had first approached higher officials in the church, including the Pope’s office, with serious accusations against Mulakkal who was then a senior priest. However, she received no response.In June 2018, when Mulakkal was the head of the Jalandhar diocese in Punjab , the nun filed a complaint before the Kottayam District Police Chief accusing Mulakkal of raping her 13 times between 2014 and 2016.Subsequently, the Special Investigation Team which probed the case, arrested Franco and charged him for offences under Sections 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement), 376 (2)(k), 376(2)(n) (rigorous imprisonment for not less than 10 years), 376 C(a) (intercourse by superintendent of remand home etc), 377 (unnatural offences) and 506(ii) (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.The trial began in September 2020 but at the request of Mulakkal's counsel, the court had restrained the print and electronic media from publishing any matter relating to the trial.Mulakkal had also applied to the Sessions Court for a discharge, without facing trial, under the Criminal Procedure Code, on the ground that he was falsely implicated and that there were no grounds to proceed further against him. This application was dismissed in March 2020.The High Court, while dismissing Mulakkal's revision petition against the lower court’s rejection of his discharge application, observed that a discharge plea can be allowed only where there are glaring circumstances to show that the prosecution has not produced sufficient material to proceed against the accused."The records would prima facie indicate that his (Mulakkal’s) supreme position had made the Sister to suffer the mental agony and trauma she had faced from the hands of the petitioner silently and when the trauma and harassment had become intolerable, she decided to lodge the complaint", the High Court had said.In August 2020, the Supreme Court echoed the High Court's ruling that his discharge petition was devoid of merit and refused admission.Once again, in October 2020, Mulakkal approached the High Court seeking to defer his trial in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. The trial at the lower court had been halted after the survivor's examination. Mulakkal prayed that the cross-examination in the case be deferred until after the pandemic.The High Court had rejected Mulakkal's submissions, stating that mandate of the Code of Criminal Procedure indicates the legislature's intention to restrict adjournments in a trial..Read a summary of the grounds on which the Court acquitted Mulakkal here.