THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Faced with an ultimatum from the magistrate, IAS officer Sriram Venkataraman finally appeared before the Chief Judicial First Class Magistrate Court on Monday in connection with the death -- in a road accident -- of journalist KM Basheer.
He appeared before the court around 11 am along with co-accused and friend, Wafa Feroz, after the magistrate issued an ultimatum as he failed to honour summons twice. The court also posted the hearing of the case for October 27, with the case set to be transferred to the sessions court for further hearing. The journalist died on August 3, 2019 in Thiruvananthapuram, with the chargesheet stating that Sriram's overspeeding car hit the motorcycle he was riding.
Sriram had earlier failed to appear before the court even after he was named the first accused in the case. Meanwhile, Sriram's counsel requested the court to allow access to CCTV footage and other documents produced by the police. The court will consider the request on October 27. Sriram was granted bail last year itself when he was in hospital after the accident.
Earlier, the second accused, Wafa, who was in the car with Sriram at the time of the incident, was granted bail by the court after she deposited a surety bond of Rs 50,000. She appeared in court on September 18 after the court had served notices on the duo, invoking Section 209 of CrPC. Sriram had earlier cited various reasons expressing inconvenience in appearing before the court.
The Crime Branch had submitted the chargesheet in the case on February 3, 2020, the copies of which were given to the lawyers of both the accused on February 24. Based on the chargesheet, the court had observed that Section 304 (II) -- culpable homicide -- is chargeable against Sriram. As the case will be transferred to the sessions court soon, the Judicial First Class Magistrate needs to complete the proceedings, including the renewal of bail bonds.
According to the chargesheet, Sriram tried to destroy evidence deliberately in the case charged against him. The chargesheet said he was overspeeding -- at over 100km per hour -- while hitting the motorcycle Basheer was riding, resulting in the latter's death. He was the unit chief of Siraj, a Malayalam daily. As per the statement of a nurse, who was on duty at the general hospital, Sriram refused to give blood samples when he was taken to the hospital for medical examination. This indicated that Sriram was intentionally delaying the proceedings to dilute the presence of alcohol in his blood. He had also requested the authorities of the general hospital to refer him to a private hospital, the chargesheet said.
The chargesheet also pointed out that Sriram's car had dragged Basheer around 24.5 metres after the accident. Scientific evidence proved that the car was driven by Sriram. Details from over a hundred witnesses were recorded and 84 material evidence was cited. Wafa is accused of allowing Sriram to drive the car despite knowing that he was drunk. She was charged with abetment of crime.