A former Catholic priest, currently in jail for impregnating a minor girl three years ago, has moved the Kerala High Court seeking suspension of his sentence for two months to enable him to marry the "victim," who has now attained the legal age for marriage.
According to the report, Suman Chakravarti, the special Public Prosecutor for women and children, opposed Father Robin Vadakkumchery's plea seeking suspension of the sentence which cannot be granted as it did not warrant any special circumstance.
The prosecutor also informed the court that Father Robin Vadakkumcherry, who is in his 50s, was convicted by the trial court for repeatedly raping the 16-year-old girl at his presbytery in 2017 when he was a vicar of a Church in Mananthavady Diocese of Syro-Malabar Church.
By providing the reference of Vatican Rule, in a plea, Father Robin Vadakkumcherry said that the only impediment to the marriage was his priesthood. But now he is eligible for entering wedlock as he had been dispensed with priestly duties and rights by the Pope, and has been reduced to the state of a layman.
Rejecting the Vatican's rule before the Indian Constitution, the prosecution argued that the court cannot be made a forum for the marriage of rape convict with the victim as it would send a wrong message.
"Every rape convict can then offer to marry the survivor, we cannot encourage such suggestions," Suman Chakravarti, the Public Prosecutor said.
Father Robin Vadakkumcherry was serving as a parish vicar near Kannur and was the manager of the Church-backed school, where the rape victim, a Class 11 student who was then 16 years old, was studying. The girl gave birth to a child on February 7, 2017, at Christu Raj hospital in Kannur.
A Child-Line agency, which works among school children, had registered the complaint against the Catholic priest.
Father Robin's influence on the family was so powerful that during the initial days of investigation, the girl's father had taken the blame, claiming responsibility for raping and impregnating his daughter.
It was later revealed that the girl's father took upon the blame due to extreme pressure from the Church. "He was under such immense pressure that he was ready to take the blame and owned up to a heinous crime that he had never committed. But soon, he broke down and said that it was Father Robin's baby, and that has been established beyond doubt with DNA tests," a Child-Line officer had then told media.
The priest soon came under pressure and was arrested on February 27, 2018. The six persons who helped to cover up the incident were also booked. DNA samples of the child born in 2017 also proved that Fr Robin was behind the rape of the minor who was studying in a Church-run institution.