Former IAS officer Sriram Venkitaraman and Wafa Firoz, the accused in the case of a road accident that killed journalist KM Basheer last August, did not appear before the chief judicial magistrate court in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday.
The Times of India reported that the lawyer for the accused produced a leave request citing personal reasons, following which the court posted the hearing for April 16.
Sriram was given the summons on February 15 to appear before the court on February 24. The Kerala police submitted the chargesheet earlier this month, nearly six months after the accident. Sriram, the main accused, is charged under section 304 of the Indian Penal Code (culpable homicide not amounting to murder). He has been accused of driving a car in an inebriated state while Wafa, the second accused who was in the passenger seat, is charged with the abetment of the crime as she did not allegedly stop a drunken man from driving.
On August 3 midnight, Sriram had allegedly driven the car, owned by Wafa, in a drunken state, and hit Basheerâ€™s motorbike parked on the side of a road in Thiruvananthapuram, with him on it, leading to the latterâ€™s death. The police that rushed to the spot failed to take Sriram for an immediate blood test. Several eye-witnesses said that they saw Sriram emerge from the car in an allegedly drunken state and refusing to take a breath analyser test. He got himself admitted at the KIMS hospital and a blood test was finally taken only nine hours after the accident.
Sriram was suspended from service by the state government.
However, the charge of culpable suicide not amounting to murder against Sriram would hold only if the prosecution could prove that it was a case of drunken driving. If both the charges cannot be proved, Sriram may get a maximum of two years in prison, a fine or both for negligent driving.