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Kerala HC stays Sessions Court order on IAS officer

On August 3, 2019, KM Basheer, a journalist was allegedly killed when a vehicle driven by IAS Sriram Venkitaraman ran over him at high speed.

Statesman News Service | Kochi |

The Kerala High Court on Friday stayed the order of a lower court here, which had absolved IAS officer Sriram Venkitaraman of culpable homicide in a 2019 road accident case in which journalist KM Basheer was killed. The stay will be operative for two months.

Admitting the state government’s appeal against the order passed by the Additional Sessions Court-I, Thiruvananthapuram, the single judge bench of Justice Ziyad Rahman AA ordered that the operation of the order dated 19.10.2022 in Crl. M.P. 2325/2022 in SC No. 595/2021 shall stand stayed for a period of two months.

The court also issued notice to Sriram Venkitaraman and others on the appeal moved by the state government. The state government had approached the High Court against the lower court order, dismissing the culpable homicide charges against Sriram Venkitaraman and his friend Wafa Firoz in the alleged drunk driving case related to the death of journalist KM Basheer in 2019.

In October, the Additional District and Sessions Judge-I, Thiruvananthapuram, discharged Sriram Venkitaraman of the offences under Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of commission of offence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Section 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act (MV Act), and Section 3(1)(2) of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act. However, the court framed charges against Venkitaraman under Sections 279 (rash driving) and 304 (A) (causing death by negligence) of the IPC and Section 184 of MV Act.

The state government in its appeal said that Sriram Venkitaraman, being a qualified doctor and a senior civil servant was well aware of the natural consequences of driving while inebriated. There may be knowledge of likely consequences without any intention and, therefore, the court ought not have dropped the culpable homicide charge.

On August 3, 2019, KM Basheer, a journalist was allegedly killed when a vehicle driven by Sriram Venkitaraman, ran over him at high speed at Museum Junction in Thiruvananthapuram. It was alleged that Venkitaraman, who was accompanied by his friend Wafa Firoz, was in an inebriated state, which led to the accident.  Wafa Firoz is the second accused in the case. Sriram currently holds the position of General Manager, Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation Limited.