Thiruvananthapuram: IAS officer Sreeram Venkitaraman, charged with killing a journalist in a road accident and lodged at the intensive care unit of the state-run medical college hospital, here, on Monday was suspended from the service.
Venkitaraman's suspension order was issued by Kerala Chief Secretary Tom Jose. According to the All India Service rules, if an officer is arrested he/she should be suspended from the service within 48 hours.
On Sunday night, the IAS officer was shifted from a luxury private hospital to the district jail. But after two hours, he was sent to the medical college hospital's 'prison cell'.
Meanwhile, a local court on Monday posted the hearing on Venkitaraman's bail plea for Tuesday. Venkitaraman had re-joined the service and was posted director of Surveys only last week after an year's study leave.
Returning from a late-night party, an allegedly drunk Venkitaraman knocked down K.M. Basheer, a journalist with a Malayalam daily, with his car on Saturday. Venkitaraman was accompanied by a woman friend Waha Firoz to whom the car belonged.
As the police came to know that he was an IAS officer, they played truant and delayed even the mandatory medical tests in case of a road accident. It led to an outrage.
As the outrage continued to swell, Industries Minister E.P. Jayrajan, a close aide of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, said during a condolence meeting at the Press Club here, the best thing this irresponsible IAS officer could do was to submit his resignation. These sort of behaviour was not acceptable, he said.
"All those who had a role in allowing the accused to escape will be brought before law," said Jayarajan.
Health Minister K.K. Shailaja said a medical board had been set up to conduct detailed check-up on Venkitaraman. "He will get no special treatment and will be treated like any other accused," said Shailaja.
State Congress chief Mulapally Ramachandran said night life of some IAS and IPS officiers was a reason for worry .
Electricity Minister M.M. Mani said a mere Sub-Inspector alone could not allow the law-breakers to escape. "There are powerful officials behind this goof-up. The state government will not spare any such person," Mani said.
According to Firoz's statement recorded before the magistrate, Venkitaraman was driving the car when the accident took place. He was under the influence of alcohol and was driving at a high speed.
Meanwhile, the Kerala Union of Working Journalists in a letter to the Chief Minister has sought Rs 50 lakh compensation for Basheer's family, which includes the widow and two young daughters. They have also demanded government job matching the qualifications for Basheer's widow.