Kerala

Sriram destroyed evidence: CB

Dodged blood test in drunk driving case that caused death of journalist

The Crime Branch (CB) told a court here last week that IAS officer Sriram Venkitaraman had "lied" to evade criminal liability in the controversial drunk driving accident that caused the death of journalist K.M. Basheer last year.

In its charge sheet, which appeared in the public domain on Saturday, the agency said that Mr. Venkitaraman had also deliberately delayed the sampling of his blood to dodge the mandatory blood alcohol test. The CB said Mr. Venkitaraman had tried to mislead police investigation by stating that his co-passenger, Wafa Firoz, was at the wheel and not him.

At the General Hospital, where he was treated initially, Mr. Venkitaraman insisted that he be referred for specialist care. However, the doctors had marked his injuries as minimal and not life-threatening. Still, they agreed to the officer's request and referred him to the Government Medical College Hospital. The charge sheet said Mr. Venkitaraman chose to get himself admitted to a private hospital.

Investigators told the court that he gave various excuses to delay the collection of his blood for forensic testing till the alcohol content abated. The CB concluded that Mr. Venkitaraman was driving the car well above the legal speed limit of 50 km per hour.

Mr. Venkitaraman, as an IAS officer and trained doctor, was drunk at the time of the accident and speeding. He knew rash and negligent driving under the influence of alcohol could imperil the life of others and damage public property, the charge sheet said.

The CB has charged him with culpable homicide not amounting to murder, destruction of evidence, driving under the influence of alcohol and damage of public property. The CB had relied on expert opinion from various quarters to reconstruct the accident.

In the absence of a statutory medical certificate that Mr. Venkitaraman was intoxicated at the time of the crash, investigators said they were constrained to bank on the testimonies of doctors, first responders, police officers, and witnesses to prove their case of culpable homicide against the young bureaucrat.

The government doctor who attended to Mr. Venkitaraman's injuries at the General Hospital (GH) had attested that he had smell of alcohol on the breath of the patient and perceived him to be drunk. Ms. Wafa had stated the same under oath in front of a magistrate. The police officers who responded to the accident are also prime prosecution witnesses.

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Printable version | Jul 8, 2020 8:52:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/sriram-destroyed-evidence-cb/article30831152.ece

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