Decision means trial against actor Sooraj Pancholi can start in lower court; Jiah’s mom to appeal.
Mumbai: Paving the way for the trial to commence against Bollywood actor Sooraj Pancholi for allegedly driving late actress Jiah Khan to commit suicide, the Bombay high court on Thursday dismissed a petition filed by Jiah’s mother Rabia Khan seeking transfer of investigation into her daughter’s death to a Special Investigation Team (SIT).
Rabia had filed the petition challenging the chargesheet filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which said that Jiah had committed suicide. Ms Khan alleges that Jiah was murdered.
Jiah’s body was found hanging from a ceiling fan in her flat at suburban Juhu on June 3, 2013. Initially, the local police investigated the matter and concluded that it was a suicide but Ms Khan was not satisfied with the probe because she believed Jiah was killed. Ms Khan had in her petition claimed that the injuries on Jiah’s body clearly point to physical abuse. On her request, the high court in July 2014 had transferred the investigation to CBI, which filed chargesheet against Sooraj Pancholi holding him responsible for Jiah’s suicide. However, unconvinced with the suicide theory, Ms Khan again moved the high court seeking formation of an SIT to probe if her daughter’s death was a murder. She also requested the HC to monitor the SIT investigation. The HC had stayed the trial in lower court as Ms Khan’s petition seeking an SIT probe was pending before it.
On Thursday, the division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Dr Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi rejected Ms Khan’s petition and also removed the stay from the trial. As a result, the trial is expected to start soon.
Reacting to the rejection of her application, Ms Khan said, “I got the news that our petition has been rejected. I have not read the order, it will be out in a couple of days … but I have been fighting for four years and I know what the truth is.” She further stated, “I don’t want to say too much about the judiciary… but I know there are higher courts and I will appeal for it. I will go and fight to the last. I will not give up because I know my daughter has been killed.”
On the other hand, Sooraj Pancholi’s lawyer Prashan Patil welcomed the judgement. “My client deserves a fair, free and expeditious trial because it (the stay on the trial) cannot go on endlessly.” Speaking about filing of an intervention application in this matter in the high court, which was also dismissed, he said, “We had moved the application because we wanted an expeditious trial, we wanted the stay to be vacated.
When we moved the application the court was kind enough to hold that if the court was against us (their prayer) only then they will hear us. The order did not go against us so there is no point (in hearing intervention application).” “Justice has been delivered,” he further added.
Sooraj Pancholi was arrested for abetting Jiah’s suicide on June 10, 2013, but released on July 2 the same year after the HC granted him bail.