Kochi: The Kottayam Trial Court has restrained the print and electronic media from publishing any matter relating to the trial in the rape of a 44-year old nun by Bishop Franco Mulakkal, without its permission.
Bishop Franco Mulakkal is the first bishop in India to be arrested on accusations of rape. According to the police complaint filed by the nun, she was raped and sodomized 13-times by the senior clergyman.
Additional Sessions Judge Gopakumar G issued the order, restraining the media from publishing any matter relating to the trial and procedures of the case, including discussions about the evidence tendered by the witnesses, without the court”s previous permission.
The order was passed on a petition by Mulakkal, seeking an in-camera trial, alleging that the prosecution had leaked to the media a part of the 161 Statement of a witness before the preliminary start of the case and the media had started a discussion pertaining to various aspects of it.
The Judge said there was nothing on record to show that the prosecution had shared the 161 Statement (statement of a witness recorded by police) to the media. “The statements of the witnesses are information falling within the public domain. Such statements have to be distinguished with the statement given by a victim. The bar is only in revealing the identity of the victim. There is no law that absolutely prohibits publication and discussion about the statement made by a witness other than the victim”, the court held, adding the part of the prayer seeking action against the prosecution cannot be allowed.
The court had framed charges against the accused on August 18 this year and the trial of the case has commenced. Since an allegation of rape is involved, the trial has to be conducted in camera, the court observed.