The trial of actor Sooraj Pancholi, accused of abetting the suicide of actress Jiah Khan, started at a sessions court at Mumbai on Wednesday. Sooraj, son of Bollywood couple Aditya Pancholi and Zarina Wahab, has been booked under section 306 of the Indian Penal Code (abetment of suicide). According to the CBI’s charge sheet, the body of Jiah, best known for her performance in the film “Nishabd” starring Amitabh Bachchan, was found hanging at her residence here on June 3, 2013 by her mother Rabiya Khan.
Jiah had left Sooraj’s house, where she had been staying for the previous two days, in the morning, according to her mother. The CBI alleged that Sooraj hid certain facts and fabricated information when he was questioned.
The agency also said that a three-page unsigned note seized by Mumbai police which earlier probed the case had been written by Jiah, and it narrated her “intimate relationship” with Sooraj and the “physical abuse and mental and physical torture” she faced at his hands. “The court today asked the prosecution to submit the list of its witnesses so that summons can be issued to them,” Sooraj’s lawyer Prashant Patil said.
The court then adjourned the hearing to February 21. Sooraj, who is out on bail, was present in the court on Wednesday. He was arrested on June 10, 2013 following Jiah’s suicide. The Bombay High Court granted him bail a few days later on July 2.
The high court transferred the case to the CBI in July 2014 on Rabiya Khan’s petition which claimed that police were not probing it properly. However, when the CBI filed a charge sheet against Sooraj for abetment, Rabiya Khan again moved the high court seeking a fresh probe by a special investigation team.
She claimed that the CBI was wrong in concluding that it was a case of suicide and not a homicide. The high court dismissed the petition, finding no merit in the plea.