After nearly a decade since Jiah Khan's death by suicide, a special CBI court in Mumbai acquitted her boyfriend and Bollywood actor, Sooraj Pancholi, of abetment charges. Jiah Khan, who was 25 at the time, was found hanging at her home in Mumbai's Juhu area on 3 June 2013.
Pancholi was arrested by the police on the basis of a six-page letter allegedly written by Jiah and and booked for abetment of suicide. However, Jiah's mother, Rabia Khan, claimed that her daughter was murdered.
The special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court judge AS Sayyad announced that due to a lack of evidence, Pancholi was acquitted of all charges. The case had been under investigation by the CBI after Jiah Khan's mother filed a petition alleging that her daughter's death was not a suicide.
If convicted, Sooraj Pancholi, the son of actor Aditya Pancholi and Zarina Wahab, could have faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail. Pancholi's mother, Zarina Wahab, was present with him in court for the verdict.
Pancholi was arrested in June 2013 in connection with Jiah Khan's death and was released on bail the following month.
Rabia Khan, mother of Jiah, who is a prosecution witness, claimed that it was a murder not suicide. Last year, the Bombay High Court rejected her petition for a new investigation.
In response to the verdict, she emphasised her daughter's death and declared that it was not a case of abetment to suicide but rather murder. She told ANI news agency that she will appeal to the high court and mentioned that the cause of her daughter's death is yet to be determined.
"The verdict is on alleged suicide, but I have always maintained that Jiah was murdered. This, in fact, strengthens my case"," she told NDTV.
The CBI claimed that the Mumbai police had found a letter written by Jiah Khan during their initial investigation. 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 reported NDTV.
During his court appearance on 12 April 2023, Sooraj Pancholi proclaimed that he had been falsely accused and was being unfairly prosecuted for the alleged crime. He expressed his emotional turmoil following Jiah's death and stated "I had lost the most important person of my life and the woman whom I truly loved."
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