The Kerala High Court on Wednesday refused to stay a lower court order granting bail to Indian Administrative Services officer Sriram Venkitaraman, who was arrested and suspended after he allegedly killed journalist K Muhammed Basheer last week, PTI reported.
However, Justice Raja Vijayaraghavan issued a notice to Venkitaraman based on a plea by the state government against his bail. The case will be heard again on Friday.
In its appeal, the state government claimed that Venkitaraman misled police and tried to destroy evidence that showed he was drunk. The government said that immediately after the incident, Venkitaraman lied to the police, claiming that the vehicle was driven by his friend Wafa. During the investigation, however, it was revealed that Venkitaraman was himself driving the car.
The government also alleged that it was premature to grant bail since the investigation was at an early stage. The bail was granted without considering the gravity of the offence, the state argued. The government also alleged that the lower court failed to appreciate that Venkitaraman is a qualified doctor and a highly influential member of the IAS cadre.
The IAS officer was arrested on August 3 after he rammed his car into a two-wheeler in Thiruvananthapuram. Basheer died on the spot as his two-wheeler was crushed between the car and a wall. The officer, who was remanded in judicial custody for 14 days, later admitted himself to a private hospital. The next day, he was shifted to the Government Medical College after the government came under intense criticism for allowing Venkitaraman to stay in the luxury of a top-notch hospital despite the “gravity of his crime”.
Judicial First Class Magistrate Aneesa A granted bail to Venkitaraman after the prosecution failed to produce any scientific evidence to prove that he was in an inebriated condition at the time of the accident. A lab report had stated that there was no alcoholic content in his blood. It is reported that the delay in collecting blood samples led to the negative report.
On Monday, the Kerala government had suspended the 33-year old officer. “The government views the matter seriously and accordingly Shri Sriram V, IAS (KL 2013) is placed under suspension with immediate effect under Rule 3(3) of the All India Services (Discipline & Appeal) Rules, 1969”, the order had said.
A Special Investigation Team was constituted to investigate the case.
Witnesses said that Venkitaraman seemed to be drunk, and was driving the car rashly while a woman was also in the car. The woman had testified before a magistrate that the bureaucrat appeared drunk and had insisted on driving the vehicle at high speed despite her protests.