The Kerala High Court on Tuesday heard the criminal revision petition filed by Wafa Firoz, the 2nd accused person in the 2019 rash driving case involving the IAS Officer, Sreeram Venkitaraman.
The matter is before Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas.
During the hearing today, it was submitted by the counsels for the petitioner that the only offence against the petitioner was that under Section 188 of the Motor Vehicles Act, which provides for abetment of the offence under Section 184 and 185. However, the counsel pointed out that there was no record to indicate that the petitioner had abetted the commission of the offence by the 1st accused person.
"What the prosecution says is that he has driven the vehicle in a dangerous manner, which is abetted by me. The only fact is that I was a co-passenger in that vehicle", it was submitted.
The petition has been filed challenging the order of the Additional District and Sessions Court, Trivandrum, which while dismissing the culpable homicide charges against Venkitaraman and Firoz, had however maintained that the other charges under sections 304 A (causing death by negligence) and 279 (rash and negligent driving) of the IPC and Section 184 of the Motor Vehicles Act would stand.
The counsels for the petitioner maintained that the offence under Section 188 M.V. Act would not lie against the petitioner in this case.
When the Court remarked that since the State has already challenged the order, and the High Court had also stayed the order of the lower court the order dropping the culpable homicide charges, another stay was not required in this case as well, the counsel replied that the petitioner is the 2nd accused, and that the petitioner's specific contention was that the offence under Section 188 M.V. Act would not lie against the petitioner. It was pointed out by the counsel that the stay obtained by the State government was only with respect to the order framing charges.
The counsel submitted that the petitioner was only a co-passenger, and had hence filed a discharge petition, which was objected to by the prosecution stating that there was culpability on the part of Firoz, as well. "My definite case was that the prosecution does not state in any of the record that I have abetted the offence, nor have they definitely stated any such in their objection", the counsel repeated.
The counsel further pointed out that the petitioner had initially been made as a witness alone, and that in the FIR, it has been stated so.
The Court also questioned the counsel today why there was a delay in challenging the order of the lower Court dated October 19, 2022. To this, the Counsel replied that the petitioner had been residing in another place.
Advocates G. Ranju Mohan, S. Suresh, M. Santhi, and Arya S. are appearing on behalf of the petitioner in this case.
In 2019, a journalist K.M. Basheer was allegedly killed when a vehicle driven by Venkitaraman, ran over him at high speed, at Museum Junction in Thiruvananthapuram District of Kerala. It was alleged that Venkitaraman, who was accompanied by Firoz, was in an inebriated state, which led to the accident.
The doctors are said to have confirmed his inebriated state, however, later it was disclosed that there was an omission to conduct his blood test. The sample is said to have been collected only ten hours after the incident.
While Venkitaraman was suspended from service immediately following the incident, he was later reinstated as the District Collector of Alappuzha. It was pursuant to several protests that he was later removed from the post, and is presently the General Manager of SupplyCo.
Case Title: Wafa Najim @ Wafa Firoz v. State of Kerala