Sriram Venkitaraman, the IAS officer who was suspended for being accused of drunk-driving and fatally knocking down a journalist on August 3 last year has been hired back by the Kerala government on Monday, 23 March.

The officer has been appointed as the Joint secretary in the health department.


A controversial restoration

The reinstatement has further kindled more controversy as the case is still before a court now. When enquired about the decision on the reinstatement of the controversial officer, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the reporter that the state government will not back anyone who had done any wrong even if he was a government officer.

He also added that 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.

The case still in court

Venkitaraman, in an inebriated condition, along with his friend Wafa Firoz, rammed into the motorcycle rode by the Siraj daily bureau chief K M Basheer.

K M Basheer, Sriram

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, had filed the charge sheet before the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court of which the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) has sought withdrawal of the decision.

KUWJ express anguish

"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. Basheer's brother, K Abdur Rahuman, told the media "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."