The IAS official, the first accused in a case of drunken driving that led to the death of journalist KM Basheer, had missed three court hearings earlier.

Sriram with beard and specs wearing a pink shirt looks sideways and talks
news Court Monday, October 12, 2020 - 15:38

IAS official Sriram Venkitaraman, accused of drunk driving and causing the death of journalist KM Basheer in Thiruvananthapuram last year, has been granted bail by the Vanchiyoor court on Monday. He has missed several court hearings earlier, but on Monday, both Sriram and the second accused Wafa Firoz were present for the hearing at the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court. The case will have its next hearing on October 27. Sriram has requested access to CCTV visuals and other evidence related to the case, which the court will consider in the next hearing.

It was during the early hours of August 3 last year that the car in which Sriram and Wafa were present rammed into Basheer’s bike near the Museum in Thiruvananthapuram. Basheer, who was bureau chief at Siraj Daily, died on the way to the hospital while Sriram’s blood test to check for alcohol content was delayed by several hours. He had later admitted himself to a private hospital.

The chargesheet in the case was filed on February 1 this year, nearly six months after the accident. Sriram was named the first accused and Wafa, who was in the car with him on the night of the accident, was named the second accused. There were 100 witnesses and 75 materials of evidence listed in the charge sheet.

The case has since been called for hearing thrice, and Sriram failed to appear all three times. Last week, the court ordered the accused to appear before it on October 12.

Sriram, who was suspended after the accident, was appointed as joint secretary of the health department in March this year. Recently, he was also made a part of the fact-checking team of the state government in the Public Relations Department. Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala had asked the government to reconsider the appointment, accusing the government of 'protecting all those who have done wrong'.

Also read: A year since journalist Basheer’s death: No trial yet, accused IAS officer back in service

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