The Kerala High Court today upheld the conviction of defrocked pastor Robin Mathew Vadakkumcherry while reducing the 20 year jail term awarded by the trial court to 10 years, in the Kottiyoor rape case.
Justice R Narayana Pisharadi upheld the conviction of Robin Mathew Vadakkumcherry for rape under the Indian Penal Code and various provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
Advocate Ambika Devi S, the special government pleader (Atrocities against Women and Children), had appeared for the prosecution in the case.
The prosecution was able to prove that the victim was a minor at that time of the incident in 2016 and therefore, any alleged consent by the victim was immaterial.
The detailed order is yet to be made available.
The Trial Court had in 2019 awarded 20 years imprisonment to Vadakkumcherry, who is in custody since 2017. He had appealed against the same before the High Court.
The rape survivor had moved the Supreme Court earlier this year seeking permission to marry her assaulter, but the Apex Court had dismissed the plea.
The Bench of Justice Vineet Saran and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari had also dismissed a separate plea of the accused seeking bail on the ground that he wanted to marry the survivor, who was a minor at the time of the rape and had given birth to a child.
The Apex Court had told the victim that she may knock on the door of the Trial Court with her plea to marry the former priest.
Vadakkumcherry, who had initially tried to frame the woman's biological father, was found guilty by a POCSO court in 2019 despite the victim turning hostile and claiming that they had a consensual relationship.
On February 16, the Kerala High Court dismissed the plea of the former priest seeking bail to marry the survivor.
The High Court had said in its order that the trial court's finding that the survivor was a minor at the time of rape is still in force and an appeal against the conviction of the accused is still pending before it.
It had said that allowing the parties to get married while the Trial Court's finding is intact would mean granting judicial approval to the marriage.
On July 13, 2018, the Apex Court had termed as "very serious" the charges in the Kottiyoor rape case involving the minor and the then Catholic priest.
It had refused to stay the trial of the case.
Besides Vadakkumcherry, police had then booked two doctors and a hospital administrator under the provisions of the POCSO Act for allegedly covering up the crime and not reporting it to the police after they had come in contact with the minor rape victim and destroying of evidence.
The victim had given birth to the child at their hospital and was under their care.
With PTI inputs