The Bombay High Court stayed the trial against actor Sooraj Pancholi accused of abetting the suicide of actress Jiah Khan, and posted for next month a petition filed by the late actress’ mother Rabia seeking Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe into the death.
A vacation bench of Justices B R Gavai and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi while staying the trial before a special women’s court posted Rabia’s petition for hearing on June 7. The special court had on May 20 adjourned the trial till June 10 after Rabia sought to move the high court seeking stay in the trial pending hearing of her petition.
In her petition in HC, Rabia sought SIT probe because she alleged that CBI, which is presently investigating the case, had concurred with the findings of Mumbai police that it was a suicide case and not homicidal death.
“The High Court accepted my arguments that earlier also the trial was stayed in the case by the regular bench of HC but later refused to extend the stay. Following this Rabia approached the Supreme Court which on May 17 asked her to petition the high court again and asked HC to expeditiously decide the matter,” Rabia’s advocate Subhash Jha said.
“The trial in the lower court is not proceeding in a proper manner and there are likelihood of accused (Sooraj) being discharged in the case,” Rabia’s petition said.
According to Rabia, CBI, “due to reasons best known to it”, has been vehemently opposing the appointment of special public prosecutor in the case by Maharashtra government. Jha said that investigation be handed over to the SIT as CBI has also in its charge sheet said that the death was not homicidal despite forensic evidence suggesting otherwise.
Rabia had petitioned HC against CBI categorising Jiah’s death on June 3, 2013 as suicidal and not homicidal. Rabia sought the High Court to set up a SIT to probe the case afresh. Jiah’s boyfriend-actor Sooraj was arrested for abetting her suicide on June 10, 2013 but released on July 2, 2013, after the HC had granted him bail.
On June 3, 2013, 25-year-old Jiah was found by her mother hanging from the ceiling of her house. As per the charge- sheet, Jiah had returned from Sooraj’s house that morning, where she had been staying the previous two days.