CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Thursday enhanced the 10 years rigorous imprisonment imposed by a trial court on Saravana Bhavan restaurant chain proprietor P Rajagopal and five others to life imprisonment in the Prince Santhakumar murder case.
Justice P K Misra and Justice R Banumathi revised the sentence, while allowing an appeal from the State and dismissing another appeal from the nine accused, both challenging the orders dated April 26, 2004 of the Additional Sessions Judge, Chennai at Poonamallee.
The accused challenged the order on the ground that the prosecution had built up its entire case purely on circumstantial evidence.
The prosecution case was that Rajagopal wanted to marry Jeevajothi, the wife of Prince Santhakumar, as his third wife. The accused abducted Santhakumar on October 1, 2001, strangulated him and threw the body down Perumalmalai in Kodaikanal range. The body was found on October 31, 2001.
Rejecting the contentions of the accused, the Bench observed that if potholes were to be ferreted out from ‘minor’ loopholes in the process of investigation, no prosecution could be possibly found to be free from one or other defect.
“We have no doubt in our mind that other circumstances on record, including the statement of Jeevajothi, which is amply corroborated by her mother as well as certain other documentary evidence showing the presence of the accused in different places near the scene of occurrence, clearly pointed out to only one conclusion that Santhakumar was killed by the other accused on the basis of instructions from Rajagopal…,” the Bench said.
The Bench enhanced the 10-year RI in respect of Rajagopal, Y Daniel, M Karmegam, H Zakir Hussain, V Kasi Viswanathan and N Patturajan to life term, reduced the total fine amount of Rs. 55 lakh imposed on Rajagopal to Rs. 30,000 and confirmed the sentence of three years RI to the remaining three accused C Tamil Selvan, V Sethu and A Muruganandam.