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SC upholds life term for owner of South Indian hotel chain Saravana Bhavan, for murdering employee

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the life imprisonment of P Rajagopal, the owner of South Indian hotel chain Saravana Bhavan, for murdering employee, Prince Shantakumar, in October 2001 to marry his wife on the advice of an astrologer.

The bench headed by Justice N V Ramana gave Rajagopal time till July 7 to surrender.

The top court’s decision comes on the Madras High Court order upholding his life imprisonment.

Rajagopal and five others were accused of murdering one of his employees so that he can marry the employee’s wife. They were convicted by the Sessions Court for murder and were sentenced to ten years in jail.

The High Court had enhanced the 10 year sentence given by a trial court to life imprisonment.

The convicts later appealed in the Supreme Court. In May 2009, the Supreme Court had granted bail to Rajagopal after he claimed that he had paralysis and needed medical treatment. He had served only 11 months of his jail term.

The case

In the 1990s, Rajagopal, who had two wives, was interested in marrying Jeevajyothi. Her father used to work at a Saravan Bhavan outlet.

Jeevajyothi however married Shanthakumar in 1999. Rajagopal allegedly used to harass the couple to break off the marriage. Reports also suggested that Rajagopal’s interest in Jeevajyothi was based on an astrologer’s advice.

In 2001, the couple filed a police complaint that Rajagopal is harassing and intimidating them. Soon after the complaint, Shanthakumar was abducted from Chennai and taken to Kodaikanal.

He was later found dead in the Tiger Chola forests.

Though Rajagopal surrendered in a month after the murder, he was granted bail the next year and was also accused of trying to bribe Jeevajyothi and intimidating her family.


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