The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the life imprisonment of P Rajagopal, the owner of South Indian hotel chain Saravana Bhavan, for murdering employee, Prince Shantakumar, in October 2001 to marry his wife on the advice of an astrologer.

The bench headed by Justice NV Ramana gave P Rajagopal time till July 7 to surrender.

The top court’s decision comes on the Madras High Court order upholding his life imprisonment.

The body of Santhakumar was found by forest officials at Perumalmalai in Kodaikanal range in October 2001. It was buried in the Kodaikanal municipal burial ground. Later, the body was identified to be that of Santhakumar and a chargesheet filed for offences under section 302(murder) 364 (abduction) and 201 (destruction of evidence) IPC, following which the alleged conspiracy came to light.

On March 20, 2009, the Madras High Court convicted P Rajagopal, proprietor of the Saravana Bhavan hotels, under section 302 IPC (punishment for murder) and sentenced him to undergo life imprisonment along with the five others.

The High Court had enhanced the 10-year sentence given by a trial court.

(With agency inputs)