The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a plea by former Catholic priest Robin Vadakkumchery seeking interim bail to marry a girl, who he raped and impregnated when she was a minor. The rape survivor from Kerala had also moved the top court seeking permission to marry Vadakkumchery.
A bench comprising justices Vineet Saran and Dinesh Maheshwari said the High Court has consciously made strong observations in the matter after noting everything. “We see no reason to interfere”, said the bench. Earlier, Vadakkumchery had moved Kerala High Court with a plea seeking to marry the victim, but it was turned down.
On Monday, the counsel appearing for the girl urged the top court to allow Vadakkumchery to come out of jail and marry her and added it was a joint request by them. Vadakkumchery’s counsel cited sweeping observations made by the High Court in a bail matter. The counsel argued in a bail plea, ‘how can my fundamental right to marry be hindered’ and added these observations should not be such, which become an obstacle for his application to the jail superintendent. The bench replied, “You invited it yourself”.
After hearing arguments, the top court asked the parties to move the High Court in the matter. “Go to the High Court”, said the bench.
In February 2019, a court found Vadakkumchery guilty of raping and impregnating a minor and had sentenced him to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment. Following this, the church took steps to dismiss him from priesthood and finally defrocked him in 2020. Vadakkumchery was serving as a parish vicar near Kannur and was the manager of the church-backed-school, where the victim was studying.
A child line agency working among school children had registered the complaint against the priest. He came under pressure after the girl gave birth to a child on February 7, 2017, at a hospital run by the management. On February 27, 2017, he was arrested near Kochi International airport while he was preparing to slip out of the country.