Sister Lucy, the Keralite nun who has made rape allegations against Bishop Franco Mulakkal, has been fighting an uphill battle not just to prove her case in court, but also to obtain a level playing field. So powerful is the religious establishment in a generally conservative environment that her lawyer has abandoned her mid-fray because of alleged social and political pressure. She has been resisting attempts to be ejected from the Convent that is her only home but, now, it would seem that the High Court has termed it a necessity for her to do so if her demand for police protection is to be granted. Every one of her constitutional rights, particularly regarding the laws and procedures laid down for rape victims, are being gradually denied to her.
Interestingly, this is being done at a time when ‘human rights’ are a burning issue in India for a whole lot of ‘progressive’ activists. Unfortunately, they turn a blind eye and a deaf ear if the issue might burst the eco-system they are part of. And Kerala, being a ‘model’ of civilised governance for them in so many ways, cannot be blasphemed against by pointing out its gross conservatism and political authoritarianism. (This blindness, in so many ways, has led to the state becoming among the most chronically Covid hit in the country.)
Sister Lucy’s allegations could be false but she deserves her day in court in a fair and impartial manner. It is extraordinary that, in a country where lawyers line up in hordes to represent terrorists such as Ajmal Kasab, she does not have recourse to the best legal counsel possible. As has been done in so many cases before this, the Supreme Court must intervene and transfer the case out of the state. It must provide her pro-bono legal support and have some central agency examine the police investigations in the case. She has been extraordinarily courage, so far, despite even her own Order turning against her, but has admitted that without even a roof over her head she might be forced to give up. With that the Bishop will get away, not because he was exonerated by the courts, but because the system was manipulated in his favour. India has any number of ‘spiritual masters’ and ‘godmen’ languishing in jail for similar deeds. What’s so special about this particular one that India’s ‘most enlightened’ state is failing to deliver? One really wonders!