MUMBAI: Film actor Jiah Khan’s murder investigation is turning out to be no less than a Bollywood film script. In spite of so many loopholes in the entire narrative there have been many desperate attempts to resolve the story, all in vain. So much so that the CBI (Central Board of Investigation) has now registered a formal case to investigate the death of the 25-year-old five weeks after a Bombay High Court issued an order. A US citizen, Jiah, was found hanging from a ceiling fan in her Mumbai home on June 3 last year in a case of apparent suicide. Police later recovered a suicide note purportedly penned by her.
The court had ordered the agency to take over the probe from a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Maharashtra Police following a plea filed by the actress’ mother Rabia Khan in October 2013, seeking a probe by the CBI. “The case is handed over to the CBI for further investigation and to assess whether Jiah Khan committed suicide or was murdered,” the division bench said last month.The judges said the forensic opinion obtained privately by petitioner Rabia Khan (Jiah’s mother) was different from that collected by Mumbai police, suggesting there was a “lacuna” in the probe.
Moreover, the SIT constituted following court directives consisted of officers who were part of the earlier team that had probed the case and reached the conclusion that Jiah Khan’s death was a suicide.
Police had subsequently arrested Jiah Khan’s boyfriend, Sooraj Pancholi, the actor-son of actors Aditya Pancholi and Zarina Wahab, and charged him with allegedly abetting her suicide.
Not satisfied with the probe, Rabia Khan had moved the high court, submitting reports by independent experts to support her contention that Jiah Khan was murdered.The court had pulled up the CBI for its reluctance to take up the case investigation on grounds of shortage of manpower, as stated by CBI counsel Vedika Gonsalves.
“It is not expected of the CBI to come out with such an excuse — that they do not have enough officers to conduct a probe. In a country of one billion people, an agency like the CBI should not take such a stance otherwise, where will the citizens go to seek justice?” Justice Kanade observed.
He said two officers of the US consulate remained present throughout the hearing as the deceased was an American citizen. The presence of the US consulate officials came in the wake of Rabia Khan’s letter to the then US envoy Nancy Powell seeking help from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2014.
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