High court refuses to cancel IAS man’s bail, pulls up police

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Wednesday refused to vacate the bail of IAS officer Sriram Venkataraman, accused in a drunken driving case leading to the death of journalist P K Basheer, and pulled up the state police for failing to take his blood samples or breathalyser test immediately after the accident.

When the prosecution requested the court for the custody of the officer, who is still spending time in a trauma care unit of the government medical college, obviously to dodge custody by police, the court reprimanded the counsel for seeking custody without providing proof of alcohol traces in his blood.

The police had deliberately avoided taking the blood sample apparently to protect the driver, who according to eye witnesses was heavily drunk. But with public outrage over the cover-up attempt raging, the state government was forced to act tough.

The prosecution approached the high court on the instructions of chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan after a magistrate court granted the accused official bail on the ground that the prosecution had failed to substantiate a case of causing death by drunken driving under Section 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act and Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code by producing evidence of alcohol content in the accused person’s body exceeding 30mg/100ml blood.

The magistrate refused to accept the statements of witnesses produced by the prosecution on the ground that such accounts alone were insufficient to prove that Sriram was drunk.

The counsel for the accused argued that since the chemical examiner’s report handed over to the police mentioned the absence of concentration of alcohol in his blood sample, non-bailable sections invoked against him should be dropped.

The counsel also argued that non-bailable sections were charged against him on the basis of pressure from the media. It is now believed that since the man has secured bail, he would admit himself in a private hospital for continued treatment.

There has been no word about the health problems of the accused, although initial reports had suggested that he had only minor injuries on the hand and pain on the back.

The prosecution argued in the high court that the accused, a medical doctor himself, had conspired with doctors in the hospital where he was undergoing treatment as well as fellow IAS officers to build up a case of health issues so that he did not have to spend time in the cell for accused persons in the medical college hospital.

By K RAVEENDRAN

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