The Supreme Court today refused to grant anticipatory bail to Father Sony Verghese and Father Jaise K George, two Kerala priests accused of sexually abusing a married woman in the Kerala church sex scandal.

Four priests attached to the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church have been accused of sexually abusing the 34-year-old married woman by allegedly using her confessional statement. While two priests have already surrendered, the Supreme court has asked the other two to surrender before police by 13 August.

A bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said the two priests were at liberty to seek regular bail once they have surrendered.

The Crime Branch of the Kerala Police had on 2 July registered a case against four priests on the basis of a statement given by a woman belonging to the same church who has accused them of sexually assaulting her on many occasions.

Father Sony Verghese and George had approached the apex court for anticipatory bail after their plea was rejected by the Kerala High Court on 11 July.

During today's hearing, senior advocate V Giri, appearing for Kerala police submitted a status report of investigation and said no interrogation has taken place so far of the two priests who were earlier granted protection from arrest by the apex court.

The bench said, "We have granted protection from arrest to them but it does not mean that they can't be interrogated." 

Senior advocate R Basant, appearing for the two priests, said the accused are willing to cooperate in the investigation and record their statements.

Counsel for the victim also filed an interlocutory application in the case and informed the court that the accused priest had allegedly uploaded a video on the internet to blackmail the woman.

He said that this video contained some disparaging remarks against the victim and was uploaded on the internet even when the investigation in the case was underway.

Giri said these allegations are something new, which he did not have any knowledge. "If true, this is a very grave and serious issue," he said.

Basant said that he would ensure that these things do not happen again. Giri replied that there is no question of doing it again and the damage has already been done.

The bench then asked the counsel for the victim to raise these issues before the trial court and said that "it is not a fit case for grant of anticipatory bail" 

On 19 July, the two priests were granted protection from arrest by the apex court till it pronounced a verdict on their anticipatory bail pleas.