While late actor Jiah Khan’s mother Rabia Khan is going about town, brandishing a report from a private ‘forensic expert’ that she claims questions the CBI’s theory that Jiah Khan committed suicide, legal experts have cast doubts over the admissibility of the report as evidence in a court of law.
The said report, dated September 13, 2016, has been made by UK-based forensic physician Jason Payne-James. Its findings are based on secondary sources such as copies of the medical board’s opinion submitted before the CBI, the photographs from the spot including those of the dead body, CCTV footage, and “a dupatta provided by Rabia Khan that was similar” to the one that was found tied around Jiah’s throat.
Legal experts though, have raised questions on the method based on secondary evidence. “There are very specific methods of collecting and studying forensic evidence all specified by law,” said senior criminal lawyer Rizwan Merchant. “Now in this case, the private expert had no access to such evidence and had to rely upon only the photographs and the documents that were provided to him by his client. Thus, serious doubts can be raised on the report’s veracity. The court will have to see whether it is credible enough to be admitted as evidence,” he said.
Senior lawyer and CBI’s counsel advocate Hiten Venegaonkar too said once the report is produced in court, the agency will urge the court to question its credibility. “This is a private foreign forensic staff who has only relied upon what was provided to him by his client three years after the incident,” Venegaonkar said. “The CBI has gone through all medical and forensic evidence and ruled out homicide in the case based on solid evidence.”
Experts have also questioned the admissibility of the report in the light of the fact that it was procured at the insistence of Rabia Khan as well as her then lawyer Dinesh Tiwari, who is now the special public prosecutor in the case. Tiwari himself however, has brushed aside all talk of a potential conflict of interest considering that he is no longer the complainant’s counsel. “The state appointed me as SPP only after considering the fact that I was well versed with the facts of the case and even though the complainant had first approached this private expert while I was her counsel, the report itself is an unbiased, factual document,” he said.
Venegaonkar though disagreed and said the CBI plans to approach the court against Tiwari’s continuation as SPP.
Rabia Khan meanwhile, has said that the CBI “left out much of significant forensic evidence” that help prove that Jiah Khan’s “suicide was staged.” “There is no question of raising doubts over the credibility of this new report. Of course, the court will look at it because the CBI has been unable to come up with right answers,” she said.