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Controversial IAS officer reinstated

Press Trust of India  |  Thiruvananthapuram 

The Kerala government

has reinstated suspended IAS officer Sriram Venkitaraman, who was accused of driving a car in an inebriated condition and fatally knocking down a journalist here on August 3 last year.

Venkitaraman has been appointed Joint secretary in the health department.

Asked about the reinstatement of the controversial officer, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, told reporters on Monday that the state government will not back anyone who had done any wrong even if he was government officer.

The case is before a court now, he said, adding there was no question of protecting wrongdoers.

The official's suspension had been extended twice.

Venkitaraman has been appointed as the "joint secretary" with the health department, sources from the chief minister's office told PTI.

The journalist community in the state has expressed their protest in reinstating the officer who was booked under sections 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and section 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of an offence) of the Indian Penal Code.

He has also been charged under sections 184 (dangerous driving), 185 and 188 of the Motor Vehicles act.

Siraj daily bureau chief K M Basheer died when the motorbike he was riding was hit by the car allegedly driven by Venkitaraman.

A committee headed by Chief Secretary Tom Jose had earlier recommended revoking his suspension after pointing out that the police had not filed the charge sheet even after six months since the accident.

The police, later on February 1, filed the charge sheet before the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court.

The Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) has sought withdrawal of the decision.

"The whole society knows how Venkitaraman tried to wriggle out of the case soon after the accident.

Basheer's death was due to drunken driving of a responsible officer of the state government," KUWJ said.

Basheer's family also expressed anguish over the decision.

"The officer claimed that he had retrograde amnesia (following the accident), but now he has been appointed to the health ministry itself.

This is to derail the investigation," K Abdu Rahuman, Basheer's brother, told media.

Retrograde amnesia is a type of memory loss caused by damage to the memory-storage areas of the brain following a serious injury, stroke, trauma, thiamine deficiency, brain disease or some other serious illness.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, March 23 2020. 22:18 IST
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