Kerala

Kerala govt. mulls reinstating Sriram Venkitaraman following drunk driving accident

IAS officer Sriram Venkitaraman

IAS officer Sriram Venkitaraman   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Accused in the alleged drunk driving case which killed journalist Basheer

The State government is weighing whether or not to reinstate IAS officer Sriram Venkitaraman.

The 2013 batch officer had come under a cloud after the police implicated him in the controversial drunk driving accident that caused the death of journalist K.M. Basheer in August last.

Subsequently, the government had initiated disciplinary action against Mr Venkitaraman. It appointed Sanjay Garg, Principal Secretary, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Department, as the inquiring officer and Power Secretary, B. Asok, as the presenting officer.

 

The government had instituted the inquiry after it found the written statement of defence by Mr. Venkitaraman wanting.The inquiring officer had presented his report to Chief Secretary Tom Jose in October last.

Suspension

The argument that suspension from service is part of the inquiry process, and the government should not use the process as a means to penalise officers without proving the charges against them might weigh in the officer's favour.

 

Mr. Venkitaraman had earlier appealed to the government to reinstate him in service as per the provisions of the All India Service (Discipline and Appeal) Rules 1996.

The plea was perceived widely as a precursor of an impending request to the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) for a favourable order to get himself rehabilitated in the civil service.

In his petition, Mr. Venkitaraman reportedly rejected the police finding that he was drunk and was at the wheel of the vehicle at the time of the collision.

Crime Branch probe

Mr. Venkitaraman is currently the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation by the Crime Branch.

However, the police have no statutory medical certificate to prove that the officer was drunk at the time of the accident. Mr. Venkitaraman had also reportedly claimed that he was not at the wheel of the car when the crash occurred.

The case had taken a severe turn after Basheer’s colleagues and relatives had moved the court accusing the police of having destroyed evidence by wilfully slowing down the mandatory blood alcohol test on Mr. Venkitaraman by more than 10 hours.

The CB is probing him on the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The agency is scheduled to inform the court on Thursday about the status of the probe.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 8:09:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/govt-mulls-reinstating-sriram/article30685471.ece

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