Police Protection Can Be Provided Only if Sister Lucy Vacates the Convent: Kerala HC

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In the petition in which Sister Lucy had argued her case as party-in-person and had challenged her eviction from her convent, the Kerala High Court held that it would not look into her right to continue in the convent. Additionally, the Court stated that police protection can only be provided outside the convent.

Background of the Case

In 2018, a nun, who was a member of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation, filed a rape complaint with the Kerala Police against Bishop Franco Mulakkal under Section 164 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Later in 2019, a charge sheet was submitted by the Special Investigation Team of Kerala police. The accused was charged with offences punishable under Section 377, 342, 376 (2) (k) and (n) and 506 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

In the same year, Sister Lucy Kalappurackal was dismissed from Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) of which she was a member for participating in protection against Franco Mulakkal.

The letter dismissing her had stated that

There is no further legal remedy available to you to within the Catholic legal system to challenge your dismissal.

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The letter had also stated that it would be unlawful for her to continue her stay in the Franciscan Clarist Convents. Her appeals to legal forums within the Catholic Church and the Vatican were also dismissed. Consequently, in June 2021, Sister Lucy was ordered to vacate her Convent.

Thereafter, she sought police protection as she received threats and was apprehensive whether the vicar and mother superior would endanger her life. Thereon, the Kerala High Court directed the police to provide protection to the life and property of Sister Lucy.

In the present petition, Sister Lucy decided to argue her case as party-in-person as her lawyer had relinquished the vakalatnama.

She stated that “I am not well versed in legal parlance, but I will try my best to convey the points in layman’s language.”

Petitioner’s Submissions

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The petitioner submitted that proceedings were being undertaken to evict her from the convent. According to the petitioner, her eviction from the convent was unfair. The petitioner stated that

it is important for my nunship that I continue to stay at this convent. I have been a nun for the past 39 years; do not throw me into the streets. I have nowhere else to go.”

Observations

Justice Raja Vijayaraghavan observed that

the continued residence of the petitioner in the convent after her right to continue as a member of the FCC has extinguished, will only lead to continuous strife and conflicts.

Decision of the Court

The Kerala High Court held that it would not look into the right of Sister Lucy to continue in the convent. The Court reserved the order and held that police protection will be provided to Sister Lucy only if she vacates the convent.

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