Jiah Khan suicide case: Special CBI court acquits Sooraj Pancholi | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Jiah Khan suicide case: Special CBI court acquits Sooraj Pancholi

Apr 28, 2023 11:57 PM IST

While acquitting Sooraj, the court observed that Jiah had suicidal tendencies and had attempted to kill herself earlier as well. The court said at that time, Sooraj had helped her and saved her life. Besides, the court said, the deceased had consulted doctor for stress management.

MUMBAI: Almost 10 years after actor Jiah Khan, 25, was found hanging in her apartment, a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Friday acquitted her boyfriend, actor Sooraj Pancholi, 32, of the charges of abetting the suicide of the Bollywood starlet.

Bollywood actor Sooraj Pancholi leaves his residence for CBI Court in connection with the verdict in actor Jiah Khan suicide case in Mumbai on Friday. (VIJAY BATE/ HT PHOTO)
Bollywood actor Sooraj Pancholi leaves his residence for CBI Court in connection with the verdict in actor Jiah Khan suicide case in Mumbai on Friday. (VIJAY BATE/ HT PHOTO)

“Due to paucity of evidence, this court can’t hold you (Sooraj) guilty, hence acquitted,” said AS Sayyed, special CBI judge.

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The special court said Jiah was depressed because of work-related issues and had suicidal tendencies. “No doubt, it is an unfortunate incident that a young girl committed suicide. The evidence on record reflects that the deceased was a victim of her own sentiments. She could not overcome her emotions,” said Sayyed.

“She could not overcome her sentiments and her love for the accused, for which the accused cannot be held responsible,” the court observed, adding that the prosecution had failed to prove that the actor had done some act that compelled the deceased to end her life.

Jiah was found dead in her Juhu apartment on June 3, 2013. Sooraj was arrested on the charges of abetting her suicide a week later and was granted bail by the Bombay high court on July 1, 2013.

While acquitting Sooraj, the court observed that Jiah had suicidal tendencies and had attempted to kill herself earlier as well. The court said at that time, Sooraj had helped her and saved her life. Besides, the court said, the deceased had consulted doctor for stress management.

“Primarily, the deceased was not happy with the roles that were being offered to her. The deceased was struggling for a good position in the film industry. She was not happy about the situation of her career,” the court observed.

The court said that Jiah’s mother Rabia, who claimed it was not a suicide but a murder, was not even aware of her daughter’s previous attempts to die by suicide.

“The complainant (Rabia) stated in her evidence and tried to show that the deceased was a proactive and a sharp girl who will never commit suicide. Her evidence reflected that she was happy in her life and was making good money from her work. Since the deceased was happy with her career, she was not depressed and couldn’t have committed suicide. The complainant though tried to show that the deceased was happy and was not in depression, but the evidence of other witnesses reflects somewhat a different scenario,” the court said.

The special judge also relied on various letters written by Jiah to Sooraj, which were seized from his house. The letters indicated that Jiah was deeply in love with Sooraj.

“She had given credit to the accused for making her life stable. The deceased had assured the accused that she would help the accused in whatever way he wants and make him and his father proud. She felt obliged as the accused had helped her and felt safe with the accused,” the court said.

The court said Rabia’s deposition was full of improvements and contradictions, and her evidence destroyed the prosecution case.

“By giving such openly contradictory evidence, the complainant herself destroyed the case of the prosecution. When expert witnesses gave their opinion regarding the cause of death of the deceased as suicidal, the complainant took contradictory view stating that the doctors had given a wrong opinion. The complainant raised doubts even on the doctors, who conducted post-mortem examination. The complainant raised doubts on everyone except herself,” said the court.

The court has also questioned the credibility of the suicide note, which was allegedly found by Jiah’s sister Kavita four days after the death - on June 7, 2013, and given to the police later.

“The gap of four days in making available the said letter remains to be explained satisfactorily by the complainant. One interesting thing in respect of the said letter came on record that the letters which were written in the notebook of the deceased, that notebook was of the complainant,” the court said.

The defence lawyer Prashant Patil had pointed out that the notebook, in which the letters were found, was of Rabia and the handwriting of the letter matched with the handwriting of the author of the notebook.

The court noted that when the investigating officer demanded the letter, instead of giving it to the officer, Rabia leaked it to the media and told the police that she was getting it notarised, but the said letter was not notarised.

“The circumstances as above create serious suspicion regarding the actual author of the said letter,” the court observed.

The special court also questioned Rabia’s conduct after Jiah’s death, as barely 20 days later, on June 23, 2013, she hosted an engagement ceremony for her other daughter in Mumbai.

The court noted that the case was first registered as an accidental death and from June 4 to June 10, Rabia and her daughter were interrogated and questioned on every aspect of the case. Rabia at a subsequent stage, named Sooraj as accused.

“There is no possible explanation given by the complainant as to why in the six days she had not lodged an FIR against the accused and instead waited for six days to lodge the FIR. The said delay creates doubt regarding the credibility of the version of the complainant,” the court said.

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