Four years after Bollywood actress Jiah Khan’s death, her mother Rabia is still fighting to prove that her death was a murder, and not a suicide. Rabia has now approached the Supreme Court as her plea seeking a Special Investigations Team (SIT) was rejected by the Bombay high court on February 9.
Jiah was found hanging in her room on June 3, 2013. A week later, the Juhu police had arrested actor Sooraj Pancholi for abetment to suicide. On Tuesday, the case was scheduled for court to pass an order for commencement of the trial. However, Rabia’s lawyer sought time as they have moved the Apex court.
“We are expecting the petition to come up for hearing after February 20, as the Apex court is on holiday,” Rabia’s lawyer told the court.
The special public prosecutor Dinesh Tiwari also sought time, saying that they need to comply with the order of the Bombay high court.
“As per the order of the Bombay high court, Rabia Khan is directed to handover all the reports and evidence to the prosecution. As per the reports, the girl is supposed to have been strangulated before being hanged. In such a case, I will have to bring all these facts before the court as soon as I am formally given copies of it,” Tiwari contended.
Meanwhile, Pancholi’s lawyer Prashant Patil moved a plea saying that fundamental right of the accused for speedy trial is being violated. “As per the law, the charges as prayed by the family can be added at any stage. There is no need for further delaying the commencement of the trial. Even if the family has approached the apex court, the trial court can still start the case as there is no stay on the trial,” Patil argued.
The court, after considering all the arguments, adjourned the hearing on March 24, observing that the prosecution should open the case on the date, subject to the hearing and direction of the Apex court if any.
Confusion over trial
While the trial in the Jiah Khan murder case is deferred, the another question which is being raised is who will conduct the trial – a state appointed special public prosecutor (SPP) or a lawyer appointed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The counsel of CBI, Rajendra Bhatnagar, on Tuesday told the court that they are in the process of filing a petition before the Bombay High court on the issue.
The Special court had, in February last year, rejected the application by the CBI seeking permission for appointment of a special public prosecutor for CBI to conduct the trial. The agency said that the investigation was taken over by them from Juhu police and, hence, they should now be allowed to conduct the trial. The plea was objected by SPP Dinesh Tiwari.
The court had then ordered that the state (Juhu police) and CBI should assist the special public prosecutor to conduct the trial.