As special CBI court gives verdict in favour of young actor, Jiah’s mother Rabia says she will move higher court
Actor Sooraj Pancholi with mother Zarina Wahab at the CBI court on Friday. Pic/Anurag Ahire
The six-page suicide note allegedly written by actress Jiah Khan, due to which a case of abetment of suicide was registered against actor Sooraj Pancholi, turned out to be a factor that resulted in a special CBI court acquitting him on Friday. Pancholi’s advocate, Prashant Patil, claimed that the note was not written by the
He also stated it was found inside a diary three to four days after the alleged suicide occurred, on June 3, 2013.
Jiah Khan’s mother, Rabia Khan, addressing the media outside the sessions court on Friday, said, “I have always said that this not a suicide but a case of murder and this verdict further strengthens my claims. I will move the higher court to challenge this order.”
Rabia Khan, Jiah Khan’s mother, speaks with media persons outside the court. Pics/Anurag Ahire
Patil, who claimed that the suicide note and other evidence were planted to “suppress the truth that Jiah Khan was suffering from depression”, has also stated that the forensic report has confirmed that the handwriting in the diary matched that of the suicide note and that the writer of both is the same.
He told mid-day, “Rabia Khan had testified before the court that this was not a suicide note. Secondly, when the police raided the premises on the day of the suicide, they didn’t find any note. Four days, after the incident somebody came up with the note and it was given to the media, not the police. The note does not mention anybody’s name nor was it signed or addressed to anyone. According to the CBI, the so-called suicide note was seized from a diary. The opinion of handwriting experts is that the author of the diary and the suicide note are the same. During the trial, the prime witness (Rabia Khan) admitted that the handwriting in the diary is hers. Thus, the suicide note theory and the entire case against my client falls flat.”
He added, “While being cross-examined before the court, Rabia Khan stated that dairy belonged to her. My client spent 22 days in prison and for the past ten years, he has been waiting for justice. Now, justice has prevailed.”
Sooraj Pancholi at the CBI court, on Friday
Asked if the writing on the note was ever matched with that of Jiah Khan, Patil said, “The mother never provided her natural handwriting, saying that it was not available with her.”
The advocate further alleged, “Since day one, there has been a modus operandi to suppress the truth and the CBI has never examined two important witnesses. The first is the doctor, who according to the CBI and police, treated Jiah when she had attempted suicide. He had said that she was depressed and had tried to end her life. The second important witness is Moin Beig who helped Jiah’s mother cool the body on the day of the incident. They were not examined because they would have said the truth and the prosecution’s case would have been damaged.”
Teary eyes in court
On Friday, the court pronounced its verdict at 12.30 pm while Pancholi was present inside the courtroom and was later called to the witness box. Special Judge A S Sayyed told Pancholi, “Due to the paucity of the evidence, this court can’t hold you guilty and hence you have been acquitted.”
Pancholi then smiled at his mother, Zarina Wahab, who was present and in tears. She thanked God when reporters inside the courtroom sought a reaction.
Patil, after walking out of the courtroom, said, “For the past ten years, not a single order of high court, special court and the Supreme Court has gone against Sooraj Pancholi. The case was being investigated by India’s two premier agencies, the CBI and the Mumbai Police, and despite that, there is not a single shred of evidence against Pancholi. Twenty-two witnesses were examined and nothing was found against him. It is easy to make allegations in the media but when the evidence comes on record, no one can travel beyond that and the law is above everyone and the court has today acquitted him.”
Terming mental health issues a concern, Patil, said, “The government has introduced the Mental Healthcare Act in 2017 because youngsters are facing depression and anxiety. One of the crux of the argument before the court was [that in the case of] any person who unfortunately commits suicide, a single incident cannot be a triggering point. You have to understand and investigate the economic, social and cultural background of the person since childhood and in this case, we have brought the journey of the deceased since her childhood before the court and some serious incidences have come on record. Three of four incidents were very serious and we assume that because of this, she had no option but to commit suicide.”
He stated that Jiah Khan had attempted to die by suicide prior to June 3. “We told the court if the deceased has suicidal tendencies, why was Sooraj Pancholi falsely implicated and it was a one-sided mala fide targeted investigation,” he said.
Actress’ mum moves plea
Before the court passed its order, Rabia Khan moved an application before it, stating that there were various discrepancies in the investigation carried out by both agencies. According to the application, they are non-analysis of the deceased’s devices, non-analysis of the ligature found around the deceased, non-analysis of the ligature mark, non-retrieval of the BBM messages between the deceased and accused and lack of mention of the injury marks on the deceased in the post-mortem report.”
The application reads, “It is submitted that the conclusion of the medical evidence also states that death by suicide cannot be ruled out but it is necessary to examine the ligature, however till date, the same was never done, which itself indicates that a proper, impartial, fair and transparent investigation is not done till date.”
Rabia Khan also stated that both investigating agencies had not collected legal evidence or proof to say this was a mere case of suicide and the first informant believes it is a murder case and the accused is responsible for killing her daughter.
Jiah, 25, a United States resident, was found dead in her Juhu home. On the basis of the letter, the police arrested Pancholi on June 10 and charged him with abetting her suicide. The Mumbai Police, who initially looked into the issue, seized a letter that the CBI claimed was authored by Jiah Khan. According to the central agency, the message detailed Jiah Khan’s alleged “intimate relationship, physical abuse, and mental and physical torture” at the hands of Pancholi.
Jiah’s mother Rabia Khan, a significant witness for the prosecution, told the court that she thought it was a case of murder rather than suicide. She had petitioned the Bombay High Court for a further probe into the matter, but it was denied last year.
Pancholi released a statement after the verdict that read, “The verdict has taken 10 long painful years and sleepless nights. Today, I have not only won this case against me but I have also won my dignity and confidence back. It took a lot of courage to face the world with such heinous allegations. I hope and pray to God that nobody goes through what I have gone through at such a young age. I don’t know who will give me these 10 years of my life back, but I am glad that this has finally come to an end not only for me but especially for my family. There is nothing bigger than peace in this world.”
Day in 2013 when alleged suicide occurred
Day in 2013 Suraj was arrested