Chennai: The Madras High Court on Tuesday agreed to shift the founder of Saravana Bhavan chain of restaurants, P Rajagopal, from Stanley Government hospital to a private hospital after the hotelier suffered a heart attack.
The Saravana Bhavan owner's lawyer had filed a petition with the Madras High Court to move Rajagopal, who has been given a life sentence in a decades-old murder case, back to the private hospital where he was receiving treatment before his surrender last week.
The court agreed to the petition and ordered the petitioner to bear the cost of transferring Rajagopal. The petitioner is also required to bear the medical expenses incurred in his treatment. The case has been adjourned for three weeks after which the petitioner is required to submit a report about Rajagopal’s treatment.
The petition filed by Rajagopal’s lawyer cited several health conditions, including diabetes, weakening kidneys and failing eyesight and appealed that he would benefit from the facilities of a private hospital.
Considering his plea, the court had asked the government to submit a report on Monday. On Tuesday, after considering both sides, the court allowed Rajagopal to be shifted back to Vijaya Hospital in Chennai, according to lawyers representing Rajagopal.
Rajagopal was taken in an ambulance to the Madras High Court on July 9 to serve the life term he was given in a decades-old murder case hours after the Supreme Court rejected his plea seeking more time.
Following this, he was taken to Stanley Government hospital for a check-up before being taken to Puzhal jail where he was admitted to a ‘convict ward’ on the hospital’s instructions. He, however, suffered a cardiac arrest on July 13 and has been in a critical condition since.
The Supreme Court in March ordered Rajagopal to life imprisonment for the abduction and murder of Shanta Kumar, the husband of Jeeva Jyothi whose father was an assistant manager at Saravana Bhavan.
Rajagopal, then in his early 50s, was supposedly enamoured by the idea of marrying the 20-year-old Jeeva Jyothi. An astrologer had allegedly advised him to marry for the third time, claiming the union would bring him more success.
After exerting considerable pressure on Jeeva Jyothi and showering her with lavish gifts, Rajagopal resorted to blackmail and threats. He told the woman that his second wife had also “married him under duress” but was “leading a queen’s life”.
When the tactics did not yield the desired results, he held the couple hostage for a few days. Rajagopal then directed one of his henchmen to “do away with” Santhakumar. While the henchman followed the order, he told the victim to run away and never return.
Santhakumar apparently did not pay heed to the second piece of advice, much to his own peril. He returned to Chennai after a brief stay in Mumbai. The couple decided to fall at Rajagopal’s feet and seek his permission to be allowed to live peacefully as a couple. The hotelier, who had not expected to see Santhakumar alive, first took the henchman to task and then ordered him to finish off Jeeva Jyothi’s partner.
A few days later, in October 2001, forest officials found Santhakumar’s body at Perumalmalai in the picturesque hill station of Kodaikanal. A post-mortem report showed his death was caused by “asphyxia due to throttling”.