A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Mumbai today acquitted actor Sooraj Pancholi of abetment to suicide charges in the Jiah Khan case.
Indian-American actress Jiah Khan was found hanging at her Juhu home in Mumbai on June 3, 2013. Police had later arrested Sooraj Pancholi on the basis of a six-page letter, purportedly written by Jiah, which pointed to her strained relationship as the reason for her suicide.
Pancholi was arrested in the case in June 2013 under Indian Penal Code (IPC) section 306 and released on bail in July 2013.
Special CBI court judge AS Sayyad stated in his judgment, "Due to paucity of evidence, Sooraj Pancholi is acquitted."
Sooraj, the son of actor couple Aditya Pancholi and Zarina Wahab, faced a jail term of up to 10 years if convicted. His mother accompanied him to the court for the verdict.
Jiah's mother Rabia Khan, a key prosecution witness in the case, had told the court that she believed it to be a case of murder and not suicide. The Bombay High Court last year dismissed her petition seeking a fresh investigation into the case.
Reacting to the verdict, she reiterated that her daughter was killed. "The charge of abetment to suicide has gone. But how did my child die? This is a case of murder...will approach the high court," she told news agency ANI, adding that the cause of Jiah's death "has not yet been determined".
Judge Sayyad had last week heard the final arguments of both sides and reserved his judgment in the case.
The CBI had alleged that the letter seized by the Mumbai Police, which probed the case initially, was written by Jiah Khan.
The note narrated Jiah Khan's "intimate relationship, physical abuse, and mental and physical torture" allegedly at the hands of Sooraj Pancholi which led her to die by suicide, the central agency said.
In his final statement to the court on April 12, 2023, Sooraj Pancholi said that he had been booked in a false case and that he was the victim of a false prosecution and persecution.
Jiah Khan is best known for her performance in the Hindi film 'Nishabd' starring Amitabh Bachchan.