Kerala Church Scandal: SC stays arrest of two accused Priests till Thursday
New Delhi, July 17: The Supreme Court on Tuesday deferred till Thursday the hearing on anticipatory bail plea of Father Soni Abraham Varghese in connection with the sex scandal case involving four clergymen attached to the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in Kerala.
A Bench of Justice A K Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan meanwhile directed that no action shall be taken against the two till Thursday.
The crime branch had on July 2 registered a case against Father Varghese and three other priests on the basis of statements given by a woman belonging to the same Church accusing them of sexually assaulting her on many occasions.
Father Varghese, represented by his lawyer, Karthik Ashok, moved the apex court against a Kerala High Court decision denying him and two other co-accused priests Father Job Mathew and Father Jaise K. George anticipatory bail.
The High Court had dismissed their plea and ordered them to surrender forthwith. The High Court had observed that "prima facie, it appears that the applicants have acted as predators and they have taken undue advantage of the position of the survivor to their advantage. From her version, it appears that the survivor has been systematically abused by the accused, who are all closely known to the family members of the survivor."
The survivor, in her statement, had asserted that her consent was not unequivocal or voluntary. The homemaker alleged that all the four priests had sexually exploited her, misusing her confessional secrets.
The Crime Branch team had arrested two of the accused, Father Job Mathew and Father Johnson V. Mathew and search was on for the other two accused.
The police had seized their passports to check any attempt by the accused to go abroad.