Jiah Khan case: Sooraj Pancholi acquitted for lack of evidence

Special CBI judge A S Sayyad observed, “Due to paucity of evidence this court holds that you are not guilty, acquitted.”

By KANIZA GARARI  Published on  28 April 2023 10:59 AM GMT
Jiah Khan and Sooraj Pancholi

Mumbai: CBI court on Friday acquitted Jiah Khan’s boyfriend actor Sooraj Pancholi of abetment to suicide. Jiah Khan was found hanging at her Juhu home on June 3, 2013.

Her mother Rabia Khan found her in the bedroom.

Actor Sooraj Pancholi was accused of murder by key prosecution witness Rabia Khan. He was charged on the basis of a six-page letter purportedly written by Jiah Khan. Rabia told the court that it is a case of murder and not suicide.

A troubled relationship

In an anguished letter found a few days after her death, Jiah wrote of her tormented relationship with Pancholi.

The letter, which has been repeatedly circulated on social media platforms, alleged that Pancholi assaulted her and forced her to abort their baby.

“I've already lost everything. If you're reading this I might have already left or about to leave. I am broken inside. You may not have known this but you affected me deeply to the point where I lost myself in loving you. Yet you tortured me every day,” she wrote.

“So I am kissing my 10-year career and dreams goodbye,” the young woman wrote.

Who was Jiah Khan?

She made a splash with her debut “Nishabd”, a remake of Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita”, opposite Amitabh Bachchan, and went on to act in two other films. The second was as a supporting actor in the Aamir Khan starrer “Ghajini” in 2008. After that came the 2010 comedy movie "Housefull", where she was one of an ensemble cast along with Akshay Kumar, Deepika Padukone, and Ritesh Deshmukh.

Jiah, an American citizen, was not even 20 when she acted in Ram Gopal Varma’s “Nishabd” in 2007. It was a high-profile start with her role as a young woman who falls for her friend’s father, a 60-year-old man played by Bachchan, leading to much curiosity for its controversial plot.

She was nominated for a Filmfare Best Female Debut Award for her performance in the film.

The daughter of Indian American businessman Ali Rizvi Khan and former actor Rabiya Amin, Jiah was born in New York City. Her parents separated when she was two and she moved to London where she completed her education before moving to Mumbai to pursue a career in Bollywood.

The flourishing career was not to be

Jiah got the chance to work with Shahid Kapoor in “Chance Pe Dance” but was replaced 20 days into the shooting amid much speculation. And three years after her last film “Housefull”.

CBI court observations

Pancholi, 32 years, was there at the court with his mother Zarina Wahab when the judge read out the verdict of his acquittal.

Special CBI judge A S Sayyad observed, “Due to paucity of evidence this court holds that you are not guilty, acquitted.”

In his earlier interview with PTI in 2015, Pancholi said, “My name will always be associated with her and I have no guilt for that. I am happy that something at least stays with me. I am sad that she ended her life. But at least her name is with me and I have no problems with it."

A career that never took off

Sooraj Pancholi made his promising debut as the lead in the remake of “Hero” opposite Athiya Shetty in 2015. The film, which won him a Filmfare Award for best debut, was backed by Salman Khan and Subhash Ghai. It didn’t do well and Pancholi’s career has been moving in fits and starts since then. He has since worked in the little-known "Satellite Shankar" and "Time to Dance".

Pancholi, who has also worked as assistant director on films such as Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Guzaarish" and Salman Khan-starrer "Ek Tha Tiger", hit the headlines when he was accused of abetting Jiah Khan’s suicide.

(inputs from PTI)

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