P Rajagopal, owner of the popular restaurant chain Saravana Bhavan who is an accused in a 2001 kidnapping and murder case was brought to the Madras High Court in an ambulance, plugged to an oxygen tank. Rajagopal, also widely known as the 'Dosa King' was to start his life sentence of fifteen years on July 7 but appealed to the court for more time to surrender on grounds of ill health.
The Supreme Court turned down his plea, following which Rajagopal made his dramatic entrance at the court today on a stretcher with an oxygen mask.
A bench headed by Justice NV Ramana dismissed Rajagopal's plea on Tuesday, saying his illness was not raised before it during the hearing of the appeal in the case. The bench said, "If he was so ill, why did he not indicate illness even for one day during hearings of his appeal?"
Rajagopal in 2004 was convicted of kidnapping and murdering a math tutor, Santhakumar, who was the son-in-law of an assistant manager at one of Saravana Bhavan outlets. Rajagopal allegedly murdered Santhakumar so that he could marry his wife, Jeevajothi. Apparently, an astrologer had told him that Jeevajothi would bring him great luck, and he was advised to marry her.
A local court had sentenced Rajagopal and eight others to 10 years in prison. The appeal was then moved to the Madras High Court that upheld the earlier court's verdict, and also increased the sentence to life in prison. The appeal was again upheld by the Supreme Court in March.
Rajagopal's popular restaurant chain, Saravana Bhavan, has multiple outlets in 20 countries, including the US, the UK, France and Australia.