P Rajagopal, the owner of the popular restaurant chain Saravana Bhavan, passed away at a private hospital in Chennai in the morning today. He was shifted to a private hospital from a government hospital on the order of Madras High Court order on Tuesday. He had suffered a heart attack and was put on a ventilator on Saturday.
He had surrendered a few days ago after the Supreme Court had dismissed his plea seeking more time to surrender owing to health reasons. Rajagopal was convicted and awarded 10 years imprisonment by the trial court in 2004 in a 2001 murder case. Rajagopal had appealed against the decision in the Madras High Court. The High Court had upheld his conviction and enhanced the punishment to life imprisonment in 2009. However, he was granted bail soon.
He then appealed to the Supreme Court against the High Court judgment but the Supreme Court upheld the order of the High Court and ordered him to surrender on July 7.
The 2001 Murder Case
Rajagopal, known as the dosa king, was convicted for the murder of an employee of Saravana Bhavan in 2001. The employee named Shantakumar was married to Jeevajyothi, the daughter of an Assistant Manager at the Chennai Branch of Saravana Bhavan. Rajagopal had wanted to marry Jeevajyothi who rejected his offer as he already had two wives at that time. She got married to Shantakumar in 1999.
Rajagopal had allegedly threatened Jeevajyothi and Shantakumar to call off their wedding. The couple had filed a complaint with the police alleging that they were receiving threats from Rajagopal and his aides. A few days after the couple filed the complaint, Shantakumar was abducted and killed. His body was found at Perumalmalai in the Kodaikanal forests.
Rajagopal was convicted under section 304 of the IPC and was awarded 10-years imprisonment by the trial court. This was changed by the High Court which enhanced his imprisonment to life term under section 302 of the IPC.
The Sarvana Bhavan is a popular eatery chain that has outlets in 20 countries, including the US, UK, Australia and France. The company runs 25 restaurants in India.