THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Judicial First Class Magistrate court in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday issued an ultimatum to the IAS officer Sriram Venkataraman to appear before it on October 12 in connection with the accidental death of journalist K M Basheer.

The court issued the final warning as Sriram failed to appear before the court three times after he was named as the first accused in the case relating to the death of the journalist on August 3, 2019 in Thiruvananthapuram.

Meanwhile, the second accused, Wafa Firoz, who was present with him during the incident, was granted bail by the court after depositing a surety bond of Rs 50,000.

Earlier, the court had served notice to Sriram and Wafa to appear before it on Friday. However, only Wafa had appeared. Sriram had earlier given various reasons not to appear in court. The charge sheet of the case was submitted by the investigation team in the court on February 3, 2020. Following this, copies of the chargesheet were given to the lawyers of both the accused on February 24.

The accused were asked to appear in the court invoking Section 209 of CrPC. On the basis of the chargesheet, the court had earlier observed that Section 304 (II) (Culpable homicide) is chargeable against Sriram. Since 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. For this purpose, the accused need to appear in the court.

As per the findings in the charge sheet submitted by the crime branch, Sriram deliberately tried to destroy evidence in the case against him. The chargesheet said he was overspeeding – at a speed of over 100 kilometres per hour – while hitting the motorcycle which claimed the life of KM Basheer, the unit chief of the daily Siraj.

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 charge sheet said.

The charge sheet had also pointed out that Sriram had dragged Basheer around 24.5 metres after hitting him with the vehicle. Scientific evidence proved that the car was driven by Sriram. Details from over a hundred witnesses were recorded and 84 pieces of material evidence were cited. Wafa is accused of allowing Sriram to drive the car despite knowing that he was drunk. She has been charged with abetment of the crime.

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