Founder of popular South Indian food chain ‘Saravana Bhavan’, P Rajagopal, surrendered before a sessions court in Chennai on Tuesday to serve a life term in a murder case, hours after the Supreme Court rejected his plea seeking more time.
Fourth Additional Sessions Judge G Thanendran accepted the surrender applications of Rajagopal and another convict, Janardhanan, after recording their statements and sent them to custody. Later, they were taken to a government medical college hospital in Chennai and admitted to the “convict ward” as per the doctors’ advice, a police official said.
“They are presently in the hospital as per the doctors’ advice who assessed their health condition,” the official said, declining to elaborate on when they are expected to be shifted to the central prison.
Rajagopal, who had moved the apex court citing health reasons, was brought to the premises of the sessions court in an ambulance. Janardhanan was brought in another ambulance. The counsel for the convicts argued that both of them suffered from serious ailments and it would not be possible to bring them to the court located on the third floor.
The defense counsel submitted that Rajagopal has 30 percent blindness and was paralyzed as well for the past few months. The public prosecutor, however, insisted that the duo needed to be brought to the court for their surrender petitions to be accepted.
After hearing the arguments, the judge, pointing to requisite facilities, said both can be brought to court using the elevator and directed their production before him for accepting their surrender petitions. While Rajagopal was carried into the court in a stretcher, Janardhanan was brought on a wheelchair and after recording their statements, the judge sent them to custody.
Earlier in the day, a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice N V Ramana dismissed Rajagopal’s plea seeking more time to surrender, 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 imprisonment in the murder case of Prince Shantakumar in 2001.
The motive for the murder was to marry Shantakumar’s wife Jeevajothi, who was the daughter of a former employee -- an assistant manager -- in his hotel. Rajagopal’s appeal against the Madras High Court order upholding the trial court’s judgment convicting him was rejected by the apex court in March this year.