Kerala

Court decision belies police claim

Journalists holding a protest in front of the State Police Headquarters in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday against the alleged laxity of the police in furnishing evidence against IAS officer Sriram Venkitaraman. S. Mahinsha

Journalists holding a protest in front of the State Police Headquarters in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday against the alleged laxity of the police in furnishing evidence against IAS officer Sriram Venkitaraman. S. Mahinsha  

The Kerala Police found themselves on the back foot on Tuesday after a magistrate court here dismissed their plea to deny bail to IAS officer Sriram Venkitaraman.

The court’s decision appeared to fly in the face of the law enforcement’s claim that it had a watertight case against Mr. Venkitaraman. The magistrate also refused to hand over Mr. Venkitaraman to police custody.

The police had booked the bureaucrat for culpable homicide in connection with the drunk driving-related accident that caused the death of journalist K.M. Basheer on Saturday.

The development prompted journalists to march to the State Police Headquarters, demanding justice for Basheer.

S. Chandrasekharan Nair, counsel for de facto complainant Saifudeen Haji, unit chief of Siraj newspaper where Basheer worked, said the prosecution failed dismally to make its case in court.

The police seemed at a loss to produce credible medical evidence that Mr. Venkitaraman had consumed alcohol above the legally permissible limits when he drove the car that slammed Basheer’s motorbike at 1 a.m. in front of the Public Offices complex last Saturday.

Mr. Nair moved the court on Tuesday seeking the prosecution of the investigating officer on the charge of conspiring to destroy evidence in the case. The government suspended him on Monday. Mr. Nair told the court that the investigating officer deliberately collected the blood of the accused belatedly to save the accused.

He also sought a court order to examine the blood for metabolised ethanol, which, the lawyer argued, was a useful marker of alcohol ingestion up to six days after consumption.

In his plea, Mr. Nair slammed the police for allegedly having failed to tape off the accident scene and video record the spot to preserve evidence. He said it was suspicious that the police could not find any direct video evidence of the accident that had occurred in a central locality covered by traffic surveillance cameras.

He demanded that a magistrate record the sworn statements of the eyewitnesses and conduct a test identification parade to prove the identity of the driver beyond doubt.

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Printable version | Aug 7, 2020 3:38:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/court-decision-belies-police-claim/article28839647.ece

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