"It is clear that the applicant (Pawankumar Gahlan) was only arrested on the basis of suspicion, that too because he had enquired about the health of Preeti from her sister Tannu four days after the incident," Justice Sadhana Jadhav observed while granting him bail on a bond of Rs 15,000 on Wednesday.
On May 2, an unidentified man flung acid on Preeti Rathi soon after she alighted at Bandra railway station. She was to join the Colaba Naval hospital as a staff nurse.
Preeti suffered severe damage to her lungs and succumbed to injuries on June 1 at Bombay Hospital. She was cremated at her home town Narela in Haryana on June 4.
Before her death, Preeti told the police after seeing sketch of the suspect that it could be Pawan, Ankur or Satyam (all three live in the same area as Preeti in Haryana).
While Pawan was arrested by the railway police, Satyam was interrogated and let off and Ankur is still untraceable.
Gahlan approached the High Court seeking bail on the ground that he had been falsely implicated in the case and that even Preeti and her father had told the police that he was not involved in the attack.
Accepting the contention, the court said, "After the applicant was arrested, the victim had specifically written that it cannot be Pawan Kumar since she had not even talked to him in the last two years."
"On one of the chits, she (Preeti) had written that she had no love affair with anybody. She had no enmity with anybody. She had specifically written that it could not have been the present applicant," Justice Jadhav said.
The court also took note of the fact that Preeti's father Amarsingh Rathi, in his statement to police, said that Pawankumar was not involved in the attack. Rathi had told the police that he was well acquainted with Pawankumar and had no suspicion on him.
During arguments, Rathi told the court that since the police was still clueless about the accused, the probe should be handed over to CBI.
Prosecutor Prajakta Shinde told the court that there is communication between state's additional chief secretary and CBI director and there is very likelihood that the investigation would be transferred to CBI.