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HindustanTimes Tue,16 Sep 2014

Begin fresh probe in Jiah Khan case: court to CBI

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, July 03, 2014
First Published: 17:55 IST(3/7/2014) | Last Updated: 10:50 IST(4/7/2014)

The Bombay high court on Thursday transferred the actress Jiah Khan death case for further investigations to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and directed the central agency to find out if it was a suicidal death or homicidal one.

Though the division bench of Justice VM Kanade and Justice PD Kode did not note any fault with the investigation carried out by Juhu police, the judges thought it necessary to transfer the case to the central agency in order to probe to unearth the truth -- if the death was suicidal, as claimed by the police or homicidal one, as suspected by the mother of the deceased actress, Rabbiya Khan.

"We do not wish to find faults with the investigation carried out so far," the judges said, adding, "However, no useful purpose will be served by either asking some other local police officer or even a Special Investigation Team (SIT) comprised of local police officers to carry out further investigation."

The bench said it was necessary to engage the CBI for further investigation to probe the aspects left out, if any, by the local police in order to unearth the truth and ascertain if the death was suicidal or homicidal one.

The judges felt that the Juhu police have not investigated the angle of possible murder properly. "The possibility of someone entering from the window (and escaping without getting noticed after killing the 25-year-old actress) ought to have been investigated properly," they said.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Rabbiya Khan urging the Bombay high court to direct the CBI to conduct investigation into the suspicious death of her daughter, suspecting that her daughter died homicidal death.

Her counsel, Subhash Jha, submitted that the investigation carried out by the local police was far from satisfactory and despite orders of the court they did not probe the angle of murder. Relying on reports of two forensic experts, he also claimed that the post mortem was not conducted properly, as it missed out a few injury marks on the body.

The court also came down heavily on CBI for putting forth excuse of lack of manpower and logistical support for carrying out further investigation.

"In a country having over 1 billion population, the CBI has the audacity to tell the court that they have only 11 officers," the division bench said.

The comment came after Rebecca Gonsalves, who represented the central agency submitted that during past two months the high court has transferred three cases to the CBI and the central agency had some reservations as regards transferring Jiah Khan case to it.

"See the concern shown by the US (United States) administration towards death of their citizen (Jiah was a US national) and see the attitude of the CBI," the judges said referring to the fact that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officers took out time to look into the papers of Jiah Khan case and even expressed willingness to carry out further investigation, and an officer attached to the embassy regularly attended the matter in high court.

"You cannot shun your responsibility," the judges said, adding, "An agency like the CBI cannot come with an excuse that it does not have adequate manpower and machinery to investigate cases. The judges expressed utter displeasure over the stand taken by the central agency saying, "Ultimately, it is the duty of the State to protect lives of citizens and to maintain law and order,"

Assistant public prosecutor Poornima Kantharia, on the other hand, maintained that all possible angles, including murder committed either by the present accused or somebody else were investigated by local police. She submitted that even the doubts and suspicions raised by Rabbiya Khan were also looked into.

"Every minute detail has been covered," Kantharia claimed. "There were no signs of violence and no bleeding injuries on the body," she added to point out that the local police did not find any sign of possible murder.

The 25-year-old actress was found hanging to the ceiling fan in her flat at Juhu on June 3, 2013.

The Juhu police have booked her boyfriend actor Sooraj Pancholi, on charge of abetting the suicide and now a chargesheet has also been filed against him.

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