Mumbai, maharashtra | NEARLY TEN years after 25-year-old actor Jiah Khan was found dead at her residence, a special CBI court in Mumbai Friday cleared actor Sooraj Pancholi of the charge of abetting her suicide, citing lack of evidence.
Special Judge A S Sayyad pronounced 32-year-old Pancholi not guilty under IPC Section 306, observing 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 (Pancholi) wanted her (Jiah) 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,” the verdict said.
Jiah’s mother Rabia Khan, who has claimed that her daughter did not die by suicide but was murdered, said, “My battle is still on, I will continue fighting. The judgment is not surprising, I had anticipated that this is not a case of abetment of suicide but murder.” Rabia said she will continue to appeal to courts.
Pancholi, represented by lawyer Prashant Patil, said the verdict took 10 “long painful years” to come. “But today, I have not only won this case against me but I have also won my dignity and confidence back,” he said.
Jiah was found hanging around 11.15 pm at her residence in Juhu on June 3, 2013 by Rabia. Based on her complaint, an FIR was filed under Section 306 IPC on June 10, 2013 and Pancholi, 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 Jiah died by suicide as Pancholi had broken up with her and sent her a bouquet on the day of her death indicating an end of their relationship.
In his 51-page verdict, Special Judge Sayyad said, “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 leading a team of medical experts, who had conducted Jiah’s postmortem on June 4, 2013. The court said the doctor’s evidence corroborated that Jiah died by suicide and there were no findings suggestive that the death was homicidal.
It said that when expert witnesses gave their opinion that the cause of death was suicide, Rabia took an “exactly contradictory” view stating 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.
It said 80 per cent of Rabia’s 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 court said that neither Jiah nor Rabia had complained to anybody regarding any ill treatment by Pancholi as was alleged. Relying on evidence, the court 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. It also raised doubts on why the complaint was filed by Rabia six days after the incident on June 9, 2013.