A magistrate court in the Kerala capital postponed to Tuesday considering the bail plea of young Indian Administrative Service officer Sriram Venkataraman who is accused of drunk driving that led to the death of 35-year-old journalist K.M. Basheer. But the officer continued to enjoy special treatment and privileges at the hospital where he has been admitted.
Basheer was the bureau chief of the Siraj newspaper, and was killed when the car Venkataraman was driving rammed his bike, crashing it against a wall. At the time of the incident, Venkataraman denied he was at the wheel, but his woman friend in the vehicle, Wafa Firoze gave a statement that it was he who drove the vehicle.
The IAS officer is in remand for 14 days and on the verge of being suspended from service, but there is widespread criticism that police and administrative officials are colluding to help him evade punishment.
The magistrate court had directed Venkataraman to be admitted to the cell at the Medical College Hospital that is set aside for remand prisoners, but instead he has been admitted to the multi-specialty ICU at the hospital, citing medical reasons.
The reason given for the special treatment to the accused IAS officer is that he has injuries to his arm and backbone besides internal injuries. Venkataraman had earlier been taken to court from a private hospital where he was first admitted, wearing a face mask and lying on a stretcher.
Police had delayed pressing for his blood sample for more than nine hours after the road accident, pointing out that he had refused to permit them to collect his blood sample. This was despite rules insisting that blood sample be forcibly taken from a driver involved in a case of drunk driving that has led to the death of a person.
Venkataraman got into IAS in 2013 and in a brief time made a name for himself by his unflinching stand against land grabbers in Munnar in Idukki district.
The media glow showered on him for his upright interventions in Idukki have now been shattered by the officer by the road mishap caused by him in the middle of the night, which has taken the life of a young journalist who leaves behind his wife and their two little children.