The Supreme Court Tuesday declined to entertain a plea of P Rajagopal, the founder of South Indian food chain 'Saravana Bhavan', seeking more time on medical grounds to surrender for serving life imprisonment in a murder case. A bench headed by Justice N V Ramana dismissed the plea of Rajagopal, saying his illness was not raised before the court during the hearing of the appeal in the case. Rajagopal was to surrender on July 7 to serve life term for murdering an employee in October 2001 to marry his wife.
Earlier, an apex court bench had dismissed appeals of nine convicts, including Rajagopal, and upheld the Madras High Court verdict awarding life term to them. The high court had in 2009 enhanced to life term the 10-year imprisonment awarded by a local court to Rajagopal and eight others in the murder case.
Either on the "advice of an astrologer" or "having become besotted with" the wife of his employee Santhakumar, Rajagopal initially attempted to make her his third wife and after failing in his endeavour, plotted abduction and murder of her husband, the top court had noted in its judgement. "In our considered opinion, the prosecution has proved the complicity of all the appellants in murdering Santhakumar by strangulating him and thereafter throwing the dead body at Tiger?Chola," the top court said in its verdict.
In order to fulfil his desire, Rajagopal used to financially help the woman, her family members and her husband, it had said, adding that the key accused used to talk to the woman on phone frequently and also gave her costly gifts. On October 1, 2001, Rajagopal got the woman and her husband abducted. The accused first persuaded and then threatened them to separate so that he can marry her. A separate proceeding was on in the abduction case. Few days later, the victim was again abducted and then killed.
The body was later exhumed at the instance of one of the accused. Post-mortem was conducted and the report suggested that he was strangulated. The Saravana group has over 20 outlets in the south India, many others in the north and overseas.