Kerala

Kerala journalist death: Sriram Venkitaraman suspended by Kerala government

Additional Director General of Police, Law and Order, Shaik Darvesh Saheb to probe case

The State government on Monday suspended IAS officer Sriram Venkitaraman from service.

The police had on Saturday indicted the bureaucrat for having run his car fatally over journalist K. M. Basheer in an allegedly drunken state. The scribe had died on the spot.

The police had charged the civil servant with culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Mr. Venkitaraman faces up to ten years of imprisonment and fine if convicted of the charge.

The government, which had come under criticism for the Police Department's ‘botched’ crash investigation, said it viewed the matter seriously.

Probe handed over

It scrambled to make amends by handing over the high-profile probe to Additional Director General of Police, Law and Order, Shaik Darvesh Saheb and placing the officer who handled the case initially under suspension.

The police received a lot of public criticism for allegedly according Mr. Venkitaraman leeway to dodge the law by not insisting that doctors take his blood sample to test for alcohol impairment immediately after the collision.

They also drew flak for the six-hour dubious discrepancy in the FIR, between the time of the collision and the hour the Museum police received initial information about the accident.

Police oppose bail

Meanwhile, the police vehemently opposed Mr. Venkitaraman's petition for bail. They told the court that he could sway witnesses and destroy evidence, given his top position in government. The police required Mr. Venkitaraman's custody to take his fingerprints to compare it with those lifted from inside the car. Investigators planned to conduct a test identification parade for witnesses to identify the person who drove the vehicle. They proposed to take him to the accident spot to reconstruct the crime.

‘Watertight case’

The police said Mr. Venkitaraman's co-passenger, a woman, had testified that he was "speeding under the influence of alcohol". The doctor who treated him initially had noted the same. They claimed to have a watertight case against the accused.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 1:57:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/sriram-suspended-from-service/article28828151.ece

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