Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Supreme Court to hear Kerala rape survivor plea to marry convicted priest on August 2

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The Supreme Court will hear the plea of a rape survivor on August 2 seeking bail for her “tormentor” 53-year-old Kerala priest Robin Vadakkumchery, who has been sentenced to 20 years in jail and has dismissed from priesthood by the Vatican.

Listed before the bench of Justice Vineet Saran and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, the survivor has sought bail for Vadakkumchery so that she can marry the defrocked priest. The petitioner says this has been filed according to her wish. But earlier Vadakkumchery had approached the Kerala High Court with a similar prayer which had been turned down given the nature of the crime.

Vadakkumchery had been serving as a parish vicar near Kannur in north Kerala and was the manager of the church-backed-school, where the survivor, a Class 11 student, was studying. A child line agency that works among school children registered the complaint against the priest, who came under pressure after the survivor gave birth to a child in February 2017.

The priest was arrested on February 27, 2017 near Kochi International Airport while he was preparing to leave India. Vadakkumchery was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment on February 17, 2019 by a court in Thalassery after he was tried under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

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During the trial, the survivor and her mother turned hostile with the victim saying she had had consensual sex which was disproven. Despite that, the court proceeded on the basis of evidence collected already and handed out the verdict.

Four nuns, another priest and one more woman attached to the convent, who were co-accused in the police charge sheet were let off due to lack of adequate evidence.

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