Bail cannot be refused to douse the collective anger and outrage of society: Bombay High Court Justice Rohit B Deo made the observation while hearing a bail application filed by Assistant Conservator of Forest Vinod Shivkumar, who was accused for 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 particularly if the offence is not punishable with death or life imprisonment. In the present case, the Court noted, Shivkumar was booked for the commission of an offence which was not punishable with death or life sentence. "Bail cannot be refused either as a pre-trial punishment or to cater to or douse the collective anger and outrage of the society," Justice Deo remarked. Justice Deo indicated to the prosecution that if there was no material on record to suggest that Shivkumar, who is member of the Indian Forest Service, will flee from the course of justice or will subvert the trial or influence the witnesses, there is no purpose in continuing his incarceration. Noting that the prosecution was not able to place before the Court any material to show any attempt of influencing witnesses, Justice Deo granted bail to Shivkumar upon furnishing of personal bond of Rs. 1 lakh with two solvent sureties of like amount. The Court also directed Shivkumar to remain present at every date of hearing and attend the local police station every alternate Saturday. The factual matrix as per the prosecution was based on three suicide notes from the deceased officer - one addressed to the then Additional Chief Conservator of Forest, Amravati and two others to her mother and her husband individually. Based on the complaint filed by the husband, an FIR was lodged against Shivkumar, who was then the immediate supervisor of the deceased. Advocate Firdos Mirza, appearing for Shivkumar, argued two grounds for grant of bail: That even if the contents of the letter are taken at face value, even a prima facie inference of abetment to suicide cannot be drawn. That even if the contents of the three letters translate into evidence, the allegations are belied by the other material collected during investigation. Perusing the letters submitted by the prosecution, the Court noted that the deceased had blamed the applicant of continuous, systematic, sustained and deliberate persecution. She alleged that she was insulted and humiliated in the presence of colleagues and villagers, that she was threatened of departmental action and involvement in criminal prosecution, and that she was summoned at odd hours and addressed in inappropriate language. The Court thus opined that the "cumulative effect of the allegations is that a reasonable inference 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. Assistant Public Prosecutor KR Deshpande submitted to the Court that Shivkumar had made an attempt to leave Nagpur soon after the subordinate committed suicide. The Court, however, was not convinced that such conduct showed in any way that the applicant was a flight risk. The Court observed that "diverse responses of persons accused of a crime cannot be analyzed by any mathematical formula. Different persons react differently to an eminent implication in an offence". Justice Deo held that a case for bail was made out on the following grounds, irrespective of the fact that the three letters did make out a prima facie case of abetment: that the applicant is suspended and would not be in a position to influence witnesses that the applicant is not at flight risk, and that bail cannot be denied as a pre-trial punishment.