Bail cannot be refused to pacify the collective anger, outrage of society-Indian Court declares

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Bail cannot be refused to please and ease down the collective anger and outrage of society, the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court observed while granting bail to an applicant accused in the case of abetment of suicide.

Justice Rohit Be Deo made the observation while hearing a bail application filed by Assistant Conservator of Forest Vinod Shivkumar, who was accused of abetting the suicide of a subordinate female forest officer from his department.

Justice Deo observed that despite the existence of a prima facie case, bail can be granted, more specifically if the offence is not punishable with or life sentence.

Factual Background

The factual matrix as per the prosecution was based on three suicide notes from the deceased officer- one addressed to the Additional Chief Conservator of Forest, Amravati, and two others to her mother and her husband individually.

On the basis of the complaint filed by the husband, an FIR was lodged against Shivkumar, who was then the immediate supervisor of the deceased.

Case of the Accused

The counsel of the accused put forth two main contentions for the grant of bail:

1. That even if the contents of the letter are taken on its face value, prima facie no case of abetment of suicide can be drawn.

2. That even if the contents of three letters translate into evidence, the allegations are belied by other material collected during the investigation.

Observation of the Court

Considering the letters submitted by the prosecution, the Court noted that the deceased had blamed the applicant for continuous, systematic and intentional persecution. The Court opined that,

“cumulative effect of the allegations is that a reasonable interference can be drawn, that a situation was deliberately created as would compel a lady officer of even a normal sensitivity to contemplate the extreme step”.

However, it clarified that these prima facie observations were being made only to consider the bail application and it was for the trial court to consider if the conduct of the accused pushed the deceased to commit suicide.

The Court eventually observed that,

“diverse responses of persons accused of a crime cannot be analysed by any mathematical formula. Different persons react differently to an eminent implication in an offence.”

Thus, the bench held that a case of bail was made out on the above-stated ground irrespective of the fact that the three letters did not make any prima facie case of abetment; that the application is suspended and is cannot influence the witness; and that bail cannot be denied as pre-trial punishment.