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Petition to CVC against Kerala IAS Officer accused in drunken-drive accident case  

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Kozhikode: The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), the Watchdog of Corruption has received in file a petition the controversial Kerala cadre IAS officer Shriram Venkataram.  The IAS officer is facing criminal trial in an alcohol-impaired driving accident case. The prosecution case is that K. M. Basheer, a journalist, was fatally knocked down by the speeding car driven by Mr. Venkitaraman, who was under the influence of alcohol, on August 3, 2019. Waffa Najim, a lady acquaintance of Venkataram who was in the car at the time of the accident is the second accused in the crime.

Saleem, a social worker and senior leader of a political party has filed a complaint with the CVC against the accused IAS officer for influencing the system to dilute the criminal case against him and get plum postings in the state government.

Shriram Venkataram (Left)

In his petition filed bearing number 203799/2022/vigilance-9, filed on September6, 2022, Saleem has claimed that the accused IAS officer has influenced the investigating officers and manipulated evidence in his favour. “Despite being the prime accused in a serious criminal case the IAS officer was illegally promoted to the rank of Joint Secretary. The new position will further help him to abuse power and sabotage the ongoing criminal proceedings against him,”  Saleem apprehended in his petition to the WatchDog.

 Saleem questions the honesty and integrity of a civil servant holding the rank of a District Magistrate abusing his official position to influence the local police to get admitted to a private hospital. “Interestingly the accused officer refused to give a blood sample, which is crucial for further investigation.  It is also surprising, after he was remanded to judicial custody, Venkataram managed to remain in hospital with all facilities, dodging incarceration.”

Pointing out the clinical findings of the doctors at Thiruvananthapuram Medical College that the accused IAS officer was having mental disorder, retrograde amnesia; the petitioner says “Retrograde Amnesia is a severe form of amnesia where you can’t recall memories. Then how such a mentally unsound officer can be expected to function as an IAS officer who has to handle assignments with critical importance?”

Saleem in his petition says that Sriram Venkataram, who was in the rank of Deputy Secretary at the time of suspension, has been reinstated in the rank of Joint Secretary. “This is a brazen violation of Union Ministry of Personnel’s Office Memorandum OM 20011/5/90-Estt (D) Dated 4.11.1992 and Order No. 20011/4/92-AlS-ll Dated 28/3/2000.”

The said Memorandum stipulates that order for promotion of any civil servants facing criminal cases should be kept in a sealed envelope.  Temporary promotion may be granted only if the case is not concluded even after three reviews conducted at an interval of three months each. But in Sriram Venkata Raman’s case all these norms were flouted, thanks to his clout in the bureaucracy and political circles.  In this case the DPC blatantly violated the stipulated procedures to award promotion to the accused IAS officer as Joint Secretary in the Health Department.

The government norms stipulate that even for awarding temporary promotion to any such accused officer, the concerned authorities will have to weigh the public interest and also take cognizance of his capacity to influence or manipulate the witness. In this case the DPC flouted government procedures in favour of the accused IAS officer and appointed him in the health department as superior officer (Joint Secretary) to the witnesses in the cases. This is gross injustice and unabashed violation of government orders.

Saleem has alleged in his petition that the accused IAS officer “tried to get away with a serious crime by sheer abuse of power and position.”  The petitioner argues that “a person with retrograde amnesia is in no way eligible for higher jobs in the civil service. So Sriram Venkataram, facing trial on a serious criminal offence should not be allowed to continue in service and steps should be contemplated immediately for removal of the accused IAS officer from service.”

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