Almost a decade after actor Jiah Khan’s death by suicide, a special CBI court in Mumbai today acquitted her boyfriend and film star Sooraj Pancholi of abetment charges. Jiah Khan, 25, was found hanging at her Juhu home in Mumbai on June 3, 2013. Police later arrested Sooraj Pancholi on the basis of a six-page letter, purportedly written by Jiah, and booked him for abetment of suicide. Jiah’s mother Rabia Khan had claimed that she was killed.
Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court judge AS Sayyad directed the accused to step forward, asking 32-year-old Pancholi his name, and pronounced — “Due to paucity of evidence, Sooraj Pancholi is acquitted”.
Sooraj Pancholi, the son of actor couple Aditya Pancholi and Zarina Wahab, faced a jail term of up to 10 years if convicted. His mother accompanied him to the court for the verdict. Pancholi was arrested in the case in June 2013 and released on bail in July 2013.
Jiah’s mother Rabia Khan, a key prosecution witness in the case, had told the court that she believed it to be a case of murder and not suicide. The Bombay High Court last year dismissed her petition seeking a fresh investigation into the case.
Reacting to the verdict, she reiterated that her daughter was killed. “The charge of abetment to suicide has gone. But how did my child die? This is a case of murder…will approach the high court,” she told news agency ANI, adding that the cause of Jiah’s death “has not yet been determined”.
“The verdict is on alleged suicide, but I have always maintained that Jiah was murdered. This, in fact, strengthens my case”,” she told BB.
The judge, AS Sayyad, last week heard the final arguments of both sides and reserved his judgment 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 Pancholi which led her to die by suicide, the central agency said.
In his final statement to the court on April 12, 2023, Sooraj Pancholi said that he had been booked in a false case and that he was the victim of a false prosecution and persecution. He claimed he had broken down when he heard about Jiah’s death, and said, “I had lost the most important person of my life and the woman whom I truly loved.”
Jiah Khan is best known for her performance in the Hindi film “Nishabd” starring Amitabh Bachchan.