After her lawyer withdrew from the matter for some personal reasons, Catholic nun Lucy Lucy Kalappurakkal appeared before the Kerala High Court as a party in person to challenge her eviction from the convent in Wayanad. This is the first instance of a nun appearing and fighting for herself in a court in Indian history.
“I am a woman, a nun fighting for justice. 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,” urged Sister Lucy.
Justice Raja Vijayaraghavan reserved the orders related to police protection and posted the case for giving the final verdict.
Sister Lucy was granted police protection recently but to avail it, she has to leave the convent. The court noted that her continued residence in the Convent will only lead to continuous strife and conflicts.
“This is my first time appearing before the Court. I had applied for police protection one year ago. The hearing for the same took place recently, and I was granted protection by the Court. There are currently proceedings going on to evict me from the convent. I am challenging this because it is unfair. In that regard, I have filed a complaint before the civil court in 2019 and I have an injunction order in my favour,” Sister Lucy argued.
When asked to choose between staying in the convent or getting police protection, Lucy submitted that the court may withdraw her police protection. She also asked the HC to stay her eviction till the disposal of her civil suit in Munsiff Court.
“If the civil court directs me to move out, I will happily oblige. But till then, do not ask me to vacate the convent. I am only requesting this Court to wait till the civil court pronounces its verdict,” submitted Sister Lucy.
Sister Lucy hit the headlines during her open protest against former Bishop Franco Mulakkal. He was accused of raping a nun 13 times in Kerala’s Kuravilangad church between 2014 and 2016. Several nuns raised their voice in #metoo movement and had staged strikes against Franco demanding his arrest.
He was arrested in September 2018 but was later released on bail. He continues to serve as the secretary general of the Regional Bishops’ Council of North.
Lucy turned into a nun at the age of 17. She has always been a vocal advocate for female nuns. She has also released a book Karthavinte Namathil, an autobiography of Sister Lucy Kalappurakkal wherein she has spoken about the sexual abuse nuns have to undergo at the hands of priests. She sought reforms in the principles that are followed and also urged to remove the vow of chastity.
Unfortunately, she fell victim to the Church authorities as she had supported the open protests against Franco. Sister Lucy was expelled from Franciscan Clarist Congregation in 2019 citing “violation of the vows of obedience and poverty”. She was alleged to be living a life that is against ‘the principles of religious life’.
She was expelled because
- She acquired a licence and car.
- Published a poetry book
- Received remuneration for the published book
- Also accused of entering convent late at night
- Participating in a new channel discussion
- Allowing a female journalist inside her room in the convent
- Coming out before the public without a nun’s habit.
Sister Lucy appealed thrice before the Vatican to revoke her expulsion order. The supreme appellate authority of the Catholic Church at the Vatican rejected her final appeal in June 2021.
“The reason for having pointed this out is because it adds a new dimension to the case. Sister Lucy pointed out to me that in 2018, a large number of persons, including nuns had raised the issue that despite the investigation indicating criminal charges against Bishop Mulakkal, he was not being arrested nor put on trial. The only demand was that the law of the land is implemented. If someone has been found guilty of indulging in very serious sexual atrocities and the horrifying levels of sexual harassment,” said retired Karnataka High Court Judge Michael Francis Saldanha in support of Sister Lucy.