The Gauhati High Court on Thursday granted bail to Assam Don Bosco University vice-chancellor Father Stephen Mavely, who was arrested by the police here on Tuesday on charges of abetting the suicide of a resort owner here on Monday.
The Sonapur police here had booked Father Mavely under IPC Section 306 (abetment of suicide) on Tuesday after Patrick Bordoloi, 35, the son of the deceased resort owner George Bordoloi, lodged an FIR on Monday night to book Mavely and others for abetting his father’s suicide, a charge dismissed by the varsity.
Patrick has accused Father Mavely of tormenting his father mentally by levelling false and fabricated charges of trespass and damaging their crop and plantation.
The CJM (Kamrup Metro) had sent Father Mavely to a day’s police custody on Tuesday and then for two days on Wednesday while rejecting his bail plea.
Senior advocate Angshuman Bora moved the Gauhati High Court praying for bail on Thursday.
Justice Sanjay Kumar Medhi, while granting bail to 72-year-old Mavely on furnishing a bail bond of Rs. 25,000 with two sureties of like amount, said in his four-page order that the petitioner was the vice-chancellor of a “prestigious” educational Institution and there “was nothing on record, till now, regarding any blemish on his part”.
The court said though Mavely has been accused of certain acts for which the father of the informant (Patrick) committed suicide, a “bare” reading of the FIR would show that “such” actions constituted the filing of a civil case against the deceased and also certain construction within the University campus leading to destruction of crops by the elephants.
“Whether the aforesaid allegation .... are matters to be examined at the time of trial. However, the prima facie view of this court is that the allegations of instigations have to be direct and the test to be applied is that of a reasonable mind. The further aspect while considering an application for bail is the requirement of custodial detention and the aspect as to whether the attendance of the accused can be secured,” the court said.
“ ... the petitioner is a senior citizen of about 72 years and is the Vice Chancellor of a University. Though the same itself may not absolve him of any criminal liability, at this stage of grant of bail, those aspects would definitely have a role…,” the court said.
Public prosecutor M. Phukan had “vehemently” objected to the bail plea because Section 306 (abetment of a suicide) was a very serious offence, investigation was at a very nascent stage and granting bail now would “hamper” investigation.
Both Phukan and A. Choudhury, counsel of the informant (Patrick) submitted in “tandem that without having a look at the case diary bail should not be granted at this stage.”
Choudhury had also referred to a Supreme Court judgement wherein the order of the High Court “in quashing” an F.I.R. under 306 IPC by taking recourse to Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. “has been deprecated”.
Justice Medhi also said the ruling cited by Choudhury was not applicable as prima facie the situation in the present case “is wholly different”.
He was of the view, “ Whereas, in the cited case, the F.I.R. was quashed under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C., in the instant case, the prayer is for bail only. Under the aforesaid facts and circumstances, this Court is of the opinion that a case for grant of bail is made out.”