IAS officer Sriram Venkitaraman's suspension extended

Sriram Venkataraman claims Wafa was behind the wheel, not drunk during the accident
Sriram Venkitaraman and Wafa Firoz

Thiruvananthapuram: The government has extended by 60 days the suspension of IAS officer Sriram Venkitaraman who was accused of driving a car in an inebriated condition and causing an accident claimed the life of a journalist on August 3 in Kerala's capital.

The young IAS officer, who was under suspension since August, had in his explanation to Chief Secretary Tom Jose stated that he had not driven the car at the time of the accident and had not consumed liquor.

The former survey director had also requested the chief secretary to reinstate him in service.

However, after going through Venkitarman's seven-page explanatory note, the government decided that there was legitimate ground to extent the officer's suspension period.

Journalist K M Basheer was on his way home from work and had stopped his motorcycle to attend a call when the car hit him. The car belonged to Venkitaraman's friend, Wafa Firoz. Some eyewitnesses said that Venkitaraman was behind the wheel and drunk.

In his clarification, Venkitaraman said that the car was driven by Wafa and what happened was an accident. He sought to refute eyewitness accounts that he was drunk, citing a medical report which failed to detect alcohol in his blood.

Venkitaraman was going towards Palayam after partying at an apartment at Kowdiar. The police who reached the accident spot let Wafa go home. They took the IAS officer to the general hospital but did not ask for a blood test. Still the doctor who examined Venkitaraman noted a smell of alcohol.

Though doctors at the general hospital referred Venkitaraman to the medical college hospital, the police let him proceed to a private hospital of his choice, giving him enough time to delay a blood test that would have proved the presence of any alcohol.

The police sought a blood test only about 10am the next day after a public outcry. The analysis at the Chemical Examination Lab failed to find traces of alcohol in Venkitaraman's blood.

The police also erred in filing a first information report. Though the crime occurred at 12:55am, an FIR was registered only at 7:17am. The crime branch has taken over the investigation which is still slow-paced. The investigation team is waiting for various reports to proceed with the case.

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