The Supreme Court verdict:
The apex court of India stood strong by the conviction and life imprisonment awarded by the High Court to Saravana Bhavan owner, P Rajagopal on Friday.Saravana Bhavan is a popular chain and has over twenty outlets in South India with several others in North India as well as abroad. P Rajagopal was convicted for murdering one of his employees, Shanthakumarto take his widow as his third wife.
A bench of Justices N V Ramana,Indira Banerji and M MShantanagoudartook into account the forensic as well as circumstantial evidences including the DNA reports to conclude that murder of Shanthakumar in 2001 was immaculately planned and executed by P. Rajagopal and four of his accomplices. The reports say that the Saravana Bhavan proprietor was under the influence of some astrologer or was badly infatuated with the deceased’s wife. In order to fulfil his underlying desires, Rajagopal used to financially support the woman, her husband and her entire family. He used to even talk with the woman over the phone for long hoursand frequently gave her luxurious gifts to pursue her.
It was October 2001 when the accused got the woman and her husband abducted. He tried to threaten them with dire consequences and forced the woman to marry him instead. A separate proceeding was on in this abduction case. And in a matter of few days, the victim was again abducted and killed. The dead body was thrown at Tiger Cholla. The body was recovered as per the citation of one of the accused persons who confessed to the crime.
Supreme Court backed the decision of the High Court:
In 2009, the High Court had extended the verdict of P Rajagopal and eight others involved in the murder case to life imprisonment instead of ten-year imprisonment as awarded by a local court. As many as nine appeals were made by all the nine accused to the Supreme Court. But the Supreme court took into account all the facts and figures and the entire material on record of Saravana Bhavan . It was proved that the victim was strangulated and then dumped. The recovered body was also identified appropriately considering all the details and confession of one of the accused persons. The top court even gave credibility to the testimony of wife of Shantha kumar and termed it as overwhelming, cogent, consistent and reliable. After considering all the witnesses and reports, the Supreme Court didn’t not find any exaggeration or embellishments to deny the High Court conviction. Hence it was decided that the decision made by the trail court and modified by the High Court stands true and need not be interfered with.
On Friday, the Supreme Court thus upheld the verdict of the High Court and dismissed all the appeals made by the convicts including P Rajagopal. The apex court asked the Saravana Bhavan owner and all the other convicts to surrender by July 7 for serving the jail terms. The final verdict took almost 18 years to materialize after the crime was reported.