Sooraj Pancholi cleared of suicide abetment charges in Jiah Khan case

Sooraj Pancholi has been acquitted of abetting the suicide of Jiah Khan after almost a decade. Photo: Publicity Photo

Almost 10 years after 25-year-old actor Jiah Khan was found dead at her residence, a special CBI court cleared actor Sooraj Pancholi of the charge of abetting her suicide.

On April 28, Special Judge A S Sayyad pronounced 32-year-old Pancholi “Not guilty” under IPC Section 306 (abetment of suicide), stating that the evidence against him was vague and did not show that he had any intention to cause Jiah’s death. “There is absolutely no evidence to show that on June 3, 2013, the accused had acted in any manner which could reflect mens rea (intention) that the accused wanted her to commit suicide. The prosecution further failed to prove that there was any action on the part of the accused which compelled the deceased to commit suicide. Therefore, in the absence of any mens rea, instigation or aid, it cannot be said that the accused had driven her to commit suicide on that day.”

Jiah’s mother Rabia Khan, who has claimed that her daughter was murdered, said that she will continue fighting. “The judgment is not surprising. I had anticipated that this is not a case of abetment of suicide but murder.” She added that she would appeal to many more courts if needed.

When Jiah was found hanging around at her residence on June 3, 2013, an FIR was filed under Section 306 IPC on June 10, 2013 by her mother Rabia, and Sooraj, who was in a relationship with Jiah, was arrested. He was granted bail by the Bombay HC on July 2, 2013. The CBI had claimed that the actress had committed suicide as Sooraj, who had broken off with her, sent her a bouquet on that day, indicating that their relationship had ended.

In a long, 51-page verdict, the Special Judge stated, “No doubt it is an unfortunate incident that a young girl has committed suicide. However, the available evidence on record reflects that the deceased was a victim of her sentiments. She could not overcome the emotions. The deceased could have always walked out of the relationship. However, she could not overcome her sentiments and her love for the accused for which the accused cannot be held responsible.”

The court examined the evidence put forth by the doctor and medical experts, who had conducted Jiah’s postmortem. The evidence corroborated that Jiah had died by suicide and there were no findings suggestive of homicide.

Rabia reportedly took an “exactly contradictory” view that the doctors had given a wrong opinion. “The complainant raised doubt on everyone except herself including doctors who conducted the postmortem,” the court said. 80 per cent of her testimony was found to have “improvements and contradictions”, leading to the evidence being “handicapped” and CBI’s case to be “destroyed” as she had shown distrust and disowned statements given to the investigators, the verdict stated.

The court said that neither Jiah nor Rabia had complained to anybody regarding any ill-treatment from Sooraj, as alleged. The court also said that it cannot be ignored that the Jiah had “suicidal tendencies”. “It has come on record that on earlier occasion the deceased had attempted suicide and at that time it was the accused who had called upon a doctor and taken care of her,” the court said.

The court also raised doubts on why the complaint was filed by Rabia a full six days after the incident.

In his final statement before the court, Sooraj claimed that the investigation and charge-sheet were false and that the prosecution witnesses testified against him at the behest of complainant Rabia Khan, police and CBI.

As the verdict was finally announced, Sooraj’s mother, actress Zarina Wahab, who was in court, broke down. A media statement from Sooraj, who distributed sweets after the verdict was passed, said: “The verdict has taken 10 long painful years and sleepless nights, But 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 these 10 years of my life back to me, but I am glad that this has finally come to an end not only for me but specially for my family. There is nothing bigger than peace in this world.”

Amidst all the turmoil, Sooraj, also actor Aditya Pancholi’s son, had made his debut in Salman Khan’s Hero in 2015 and has subsequently acted in Satellite Shankar and A Time to Dance.



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