A special CBI court on Friday acquitted actor Sooraj Pancholi from charges of abetting the suicide of actor Jiah Khan in 2013 due to “paucity of evidence”.
Almost 10 years after she was found hanging at her home, a special CBI court here pronounced its verdict on Friday in the Bollywood actor Jiah Khan suicide case, in which her boyfriend and film star Sooraj Pancholi has been charged with abetment.
If convicted, Sooraj, the son of actor couple Aditya Pancholi and Zarina Wahab, would have faced a jail term of up to 10 years.
Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court judge A S Sayyad last week heard the final arguments of both sides and reserved his judgment in the case. Jiah (25), an American citizen, was found dead at her Juhu home here on June 3, 2013. Police later arrested Sooraj on the basis of a six-page letter, purportedly written by the Bollywood starlet, and booked him for abetment of suicide under Indian Penal Code (IPC) section 306.
IPC section 306 says, "If any person commits suicide, whoever abets the commission of such suicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine." Sooraj is currently out on bail in the case.
The CBI had alleged that the letter seized by the Mumbai police, which probed the case initially, was written by Jiah Khan. The note narrated Jiah Khan's "intimate relationship, physical abuse and mental and physical torture" allegedly at the hands of Sooraj which led her to commit suicide, the central agency said.
The case was reassigned to a special CBI court in 2021 after the sessions court said that it did not have the jurisdiction over the case as the central agency had probed it. Jiah's mother Rabia Khan, a key prosecution witness in the case, told the court that she believed it to be a case of murder and not suicide.The Bombay High Court had last year dismissed her petition seeking a fresh investigation into the case. During her deposition, Rabia had told the CBI court that Sooraj used to subject Jiah to physical and verbal abuse. Rabia also told the court that neither the police nor the CBI had collected any "legal evidence" to prove that her daughter had committed suicide. Sooraj, in his final statement filed before the court, had claimed the investigation and chargesheet were false, adding that the prosecution witnesses testified against him at the behest of complainant Rabia Khan, police and CBI. Jiah Khan is best known for her performance in Hindi film "Nishabd" starring Amitabh Bachchan.
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