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Kerala IAS officer gets bail in journalist road death case

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Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 6, 2019-

Due to delayed police action, IAS officer Sreeram Venkitaraman, arrested for causing death to a journalist in a road accident and charged under non-bailable sections, was granted bail, here on Tuesday.

When the bail plea came up before the Thiruvananthapuram chief judicial magistrate court, it asked for proof that the officer was drunk and told the police to produce the case diary and also the test report.

The police produced the required documents and demanded Venkitaraman’s custody for further probe, the court disallowed it and granted him bail.

Even though the two witnesses have said the officer was seen under the influence of alcohol, the police team failed to take the blood samples on time, giving Venkitaraman enough space to wriggle out. The blood sample was taken nine hours later and the report showed negative for alcohol.

Venkitaraman is lodged at the intensive care unit of the state-run medical college hospital, here.

On Monday, Kerala Chief Secretary Tom Jose ordered Venkitaraman’s suspension. According to rules, if an officer is arrested he has to be suspended from the service within 48 hours.

Returning from a late-night party, an allegedly drunk Venkitaraman knocked down K.M. Basheer, a journalist with a Malayalam daily, with his car on August 3. Venkitaraman was accompanied by a woman friend Waha Firoz to whom the car belonged.

As the police came to know that he was an IAS officer, they delayed even the mandatory medical tests in case of a road accident. Even though several ministers condemned the incident, the police ‘failed’ to act on time. It led to an outrage.

According to Firoz’s statement recorded before the magistrate, Venkitaraman was driving the car when the accident took place. He was under the influence of alcohol and was driving at a high speed.

Meanwhile, following a huge public outrage, a new team has been constituted to probe into the case afresh and to see if there were any lapses by the local police.

The Siraj newspaper management on Tuesday filed a petition demanding that the court monitor the probe and also direct the accused to undergo a dopamine test.

Media critic Roy Mathew said it was a classic case of manipulation by the high and mighty to get away.  (Agency)

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