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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

SC confirms life sentence for Saravana Bhavan owner P Rajagopal for 2001 murder

Saravana Bhavan owner P Rajagopal is convicted for murdering his employee Santhakumar, the husband of Jeevajyothi whom Rajagopal wanted to marry

india Updated: Mar 29, 2019 23:36 IST
Ashok Bagriya
Ashok Bagriya
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the Madras High Court’s order of life term to Saravana Bhavan owner P Rajagopal for the abduction and murder of one of his employees in 2001.
The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the Madras High Court’s order of life term to Saravana Bhavan owner P Rajagopal for the abduction and murder of one of his employees in 2001.(HT file photo)

The Supreme Court on Friday confirmed the punishment of life sentence on P Rajagopal, the founder of chain of popular south Indian eatery, Saravana Bhavan for the murder of one Santhakumar.

P Rajagopal, currently out on bail, which was granted to him by the Supreme Court in 2009 on health grounds, has been directed by the court to surrender by July 7.

Delivering its verdict, a three judge bench of justices N.V. Ramana, Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and Indira Banerjee held that, ”Having regard to the entire material on record and the totality of the facts and circumstances, we find that the evidence on record fully proves the case of the prosecution.”

In 2001, P Rajagopala was accused of the abduction and murder of Shantakumar, husband of Jeevajyothi, with whom Rajagopal was obsession with and desperate to marry as his third wife.

Rajagopal was sentenced to 10 years in jail by the trial court for the offence of abduction and culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

But in March 2009, Madras High Court enhanced the 10 year sentence imposed by the session court on Rajgopal and five others to life imprisonment on the ground that their offence fell under Section 302 IPC(murder) and not 304 Part-1 8 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder).

The prosecution case was that Rajagopal, conspired to finish off Santha Kumar and got him abducted in the presence of Jeevajyothi. He was taken to Kodaikanal hills where he was murdered and the body dumped in the jungles.

It was in 1994 that Rajagopal happened to meet Jeevajyothi, then a plus two student, at a get together of Saravana Bhavan employees in Chennai. From then on Annachi, as Rajagopal is to his employees and acquaintances, started stalking her.

At this juncture, an astrologer advised Rajagopal that a third marriage would brighten up his stars and help his business grow exponentially.

Unaware of Rajagopal’s machinations, Jeevajyothi fell in love with Santhakumar, a maths teacher who came for home tuition. She eloped with Santhakumar and got married in 1999.

When the couple returned to Chennai Rajagopal attempted to create a wedge between the young couple.

“Rajagopal hired a supari team headed by one Daniel, and gave them ~5 lakh to eliminate Santhakumar. However, Daniel, who kidnapped Santhakumar, let him off by giving ~ 5000 and warning him to flee to Mumbai. Daniel and his team told Rajagopal that they had murdered and disposed off the body,” reads the charge sheet filed in the case.

First Published: Mar 29, 2019 11:27 IST