New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday wondered over the sudden spurt in number of rape cases involving church priests.
A bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan had two separate cases, involving church priests from Kerala, listed before it on Thursday.
When the first matter was taken up, the bench remarked: “What is happening? Cases of priests one after the other…?”
The bench then added, “What we mean to say is that we have been getting so many cases of priests involved in cases registered under Section 376 (rape).”
The first case before this bench in the Supreme Court involved Father Thomas Joseph Therakam, who has moved the court for quashing of charges against him in a rape case.
Joseph has to face trial for allegedly trying to help Kottiyoor priest, Robin Vadakkumchery in hushing up a rape case against the latter, in which a minor girl was raped who subsequently gave birth to a baby.
Apart from Joseph, who was removed as the Wayanad Child Welfare Committee (CWC) chairman last year, five nuns and two doctors were also accused in the case.
The counsel for the accused pleaded the bench to stay the trial, which is set to begin from August 1. But the bench observed that it will not suspend the trial. The court, however, agreed to hear the case on August 1.
The second case before the bench also involved four clergymen attached to the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in Kerala.
In connection with a rape case involving a 34-year old married woman, two priests have moved the Supreme Court seeking anticipatory bail.
Last week, this bench had reserved its order. On Thursday, the court asked the Kerala police to furnish a status report on investigation by July 27.
It is apparent that the bench wishes to examine the status of probe before deciding whether the two priests, Father Soni Abraham Varghese and Father Jaise K George, deserves protection from arrest or not. As an interim measure, the top court has asked the police not to arrest the duo till its final order.
Incidentally, it is the same bench, which is also hearing the rape case involving self-styled godman Asaram.