It is almost a decade since actress Jiah Khan died by suicide but the case behind uncovering the truth behind her death continued until today. After multiple court-sanctioned investigations and CBI probes, a special CBI court announced its verdict in the Jiah Khan death case today. Sooraj Pancholi, accused of abetment to suicide, was acquitted by the court for lack of evidence.
Visuals from outside the special CBI court in Mumbai. Sooraj Pancholi, facing abetment charges, has been acquitted in the 2013 Jiah Khan suicide case. pic.twitter.com/OukZVnkYDp— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) April 28, 2023
Actor Sooraj Pancholi was Jiah Khan’s boyfriend at the time of her suicide. With Khan’s letter accusing him of physical abuse, the actress’s mother Rabiya Khan strongly believed that Pancholi had murdered her daughter.
After multiple petitions from Rabiya, a CBI special court under Judge AS Sayyad oversaw a hearing to decide the true cause of Jiah Khan’s death. Both sides of the argument were heard last week, with the court reaching a verdict on Friday (April 28, 2023).
Pancholi, in his final court statement, claimed the investigation and chargesheet against him were false, adding that the prosecution witnesses testified against him only at the behest of Rabiya Khan, police and CBI.
Citing “lack of evidence”, the CBI court dropped all charges of abetment to suicide against Pancholi and acquitted him.
June 3, 2013: Jiah Khan pronounced dead. The Housefull and Ghajini actress was found hanging from a ceiling fan in the bedroom of her family's residence in Juhu, Mumbai. The death took place sometime between 11 and 11.30 pm.
June 5, 2013: After an autopsy, the body is brought back for a funeral prayer and buried at Juhu Muslim Cemetery.
June 7, 2013: A hand-written six-page note is recovered from the room. Khan seemed to accuse her boyfriend Sooraj Pancholi as the reason behind her killing herself. She also accused him of physically abusing her, torturing her and forcing her to go through an abortion.
Meanwhile, Khan’s mother Rabiya Khan begins suspecting foul play, accusing Pancholi of murdering her then 25-year-old daughter and then framing it as a suicide.
June 10, 2013: Pancholi taken into police custody for abetment to suicide.
July 2, 2013: Bombay High Court grants Pancholi bail but asks him to surrender his passport.
July 3, 2014: On Jiah Khan’s first death anniversary, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is roped in for a special probe, while Mumbai Police conclude that Jiah Khan indeed killed herself.
Pancholi’s parents Aditya Pancholi and Zarina Wahab file for defamation against Rabiya Khan.
June 7, 2016: The Bombay High Court has a hearing after the Supreme Court orders to speed up the case.
August 1, 2016: CBI rules out murder as a cause of death. “Suicide by hanging” is determined as the cause yet again.
September 20, 2016: A new report by British forensics expert Jason Payne-James states that the hanging was staged and that the marks on Khan’s face and neck indicated that it was not just suicide. The expert was hired by Rabiya herself sometime earlier.
January 2017: The prosecution requested Bombay HC that charges of sexual assault and murder be laid against Pancholi.
2018: A special CBI court rejects the plea for further investigation against Sooraj Pancholi.
2021: The sessions court claims that it doesn't have jurisdiction after the CBI probe. The case gets reassigned to a special CBI court again.
2022: The Bombay High Court dismisses another petition from Rabia seeking a fresh investigation into the case.
April 21, 2023: The special CBI court aims to reach a verdict, with Pancholi and the prosecution submitting their final arguments.
April 28, 2023: A verdict is reached. Pancholi acquitted.