Hotelier's appeal against RI for murder comes up for hearing

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Chennai, Nov 14 (UNI) After a delay of more than three years, the appeals against the trial court order, sentencing Saravana Bhavan Hotel proprietor Rajagopal to 10 years Rigorous Imprisoment in connection with a murder case, came up for hearing in the Madras High court today.

The appeals filed by Rajagopal, challenging his conviction and the prosecution stating that the sentence awarded by the lower court was lesser, came up for hearing before a division Bench, comprising Justice P K Misra and Justice R Bhanumati.

Pointing out the delay, the Bench said it would hear the appeals on regular basis as they were pending before the court for long. After asking both the parties to argue the case, the Bench posted the case for November 17 for further hearing.

The appeals could not be taken up for hearing immediately as two Benches, before which the case was posted, received threat letters against hearing the case.

Initially, the appeals were posted before a Division Bench, comprising Justices M Chocklingam and S Rajeswaran.

But the Bench, after the receipt of the letter, referred the case to Chief Justice to be posted before some other Bench.

Later, the appeals were posted before another Bench, comprising Justices D Murugesan and V Periakaruppaiah. This Bench also received a threatening letter against hearing the case. It referred the matter to the Chief Justice for posting the case before some other Bench.

Following this, the first Bench, comprising Justices A K Ganguly and F K Ibrahim Kalifullah posted the case before the present Bench.

The prosecution case was that Rajagopal and his henchmen had abducted the manager of the hotel chain Prince Santhakumar and killed him before throwing the body in a valley in Kodaikanal.

Rajagopal had eliminated Santhakumar to marry his wife Jeevajothi, the Prosecution contended.

A special court here convicted and awarded 10 years RI to Rajagopal and imposed a fine of Rs 50 lakhs.

As the special court did not convict him under Section 302 of IPC, holding that he had no intention to murder Santhakumar, the prosecution preferred the appeal.


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