In a classic example how a person from high positions escape the otherwise strong arms of judiciary, Sriram Venkataraman is still far away from the reach of judicial system. Perhaps the way how he is protected by a government by even awarding with a promotion, is shocking to an average citizen in the country.
On Friday, a Kerala Court gave an ‘ultimatum’ for IAS officer Sriram Venkitaraman, accused of driving a car in an inebriated condition and fatally knocking down a journalist in the city on August 3 last year, to appear before it on October 12 in connection with the case.
A Judicial First Class Magistrate court issued the order after Venkitaraman failed to appear citing various reasons despite three notices being issued to him. A charge sheet was filed in the court on February1 this year against the IAS officer, arraigning him as the first accused in the case.
The court has issued notice to him as per section 209 of the CrPC.
Section 209 deals with transferring of a case to a Sessions court when an offence is triable exclusively by it.
In this case, the court had, after considering the charge sheet, observed that Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) would be chargeable against the IAS officer and it was triable by a sessions court. Section 304 deals with punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
Before transferring the case, the lower court needs tocomplete certain procedural formalities and those were delayed due to his failure to appear before the court thrice.
Wafa Firoz, his friend, who was also in the luxury car, is the second accused in the case and has been charged with abetting the officer to drive the car rashly. However, she appeared before court today.
The around 70-page charge sheet was filed before the Judicial First Class Magistrate court here by the Special Investigation Team of the Crime branch, which probed the case. The charge sheet has listed 100 witnesses and submitted 75 materials of evidence.
It states that the 33-year-old officer was drunk and was behind the wheels in the overspeeding car while returning from a private party on August 3 last year past midnight, police sources said.
The car hit journalist K M Basheer, who was on his motorcycle, killing him on the spot. Venkitaraman, a doctor himself, allowed police to collect his blood sample for examination nine hours after the accident and after getting himself admitted to a private hospital here. His arrest was recorded nearly 17 hours later.
The officer was shifted to the Medical college hospital after Basheer’s family and media personnel protested over the “five-star treatment” being given to him at the private KIMS hospital.
Appointed Survey Director by the state cabinet in August 2019, Venkitaraman was booked under Sections 279 (rash driving on a public way) and 304 of the Indian Penal Code and damaging public property.
He was suspended from service and his driving licence cancelled.
Venkitaraman, who was suspended two days after the incident, was reinstated in March this year and appointed as Joint Secretary, Health department.
With inputs from PTI