Kochi: In a major setback to the state government , the High Court on Tuesday rejected the appeal filed by it to cancel the bail gr-anted to Sriram Venkit-raman, IAS officer, facing charges of drunken driving leading to the death of journalist K. M. Bas-heer. Upholding the Thir-uvananthapuram magistrate court verdict granting bail to Sriram, the HC stated that the present situation does not warrant the custodial interrogation of the official.
Castigating the investigation process, the court observed that the police had not shown the required professionalism. The police lacked a clear standard operating procedure to handle cases linked to accidents.
The failure of cops to subject Sriram to alcohol test soon after the incident was a major lapse. The applicability of section 304 of the IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) against him has also become doubtful as the presence of alcohol could not be traced in blood samples of the accused. The accou-nts of eyewitnesses alone cannot be relied upon to determine whether the accused was drunk or not.
The counsel for the government submitted that the accident took place because the accused was in a highly inebriated condition and that amounted to culpable homicide. The counsel for Sriram had argued that since alcohol was not found in the blood sample, the charges of culpable homicide cannot be invoked.
K..M.. Basheer, the bureau chief of Siraj daily in Thiruvanathapuram, was killed on the night of August 2 when the car allegedly driven by Sriram knocked him down at Kowadiar road. Sriram, holding the post of Director Survey and Land Records Kerala, was coming out after a party with friends when the incident took place.
Sriram initially said he was not driving the vehicle, but Wafa Firoz, the female friend traveling with him, said he was at the wheel. Sriram was discharged from the Medical College Hospital on Monday and the medical board had recommended a month-long rest for him.