Jiah Khan death: Forensic expert says actress' injuries not explained correctly by investigators
A little over three years since Nishabd actress Jiah Khan was found hanging in her Mumbai apartment, her mother Rabia Khan hasn't stopped investigating the circumstances that led to her death.
The latest reports state that Rabia sought the services of a UK-based forensic expert, whose findings pertaining to Jiah's death will be presented to the Bombay High Court.
The development comes just days after the High Court rapped Rabia for seeking frequent adjournments in filing a reply to the CBI's affidavit of August 2016, which stated that Jiah's death was a case of suicide.
The forensic expert whom Rabia approached, Jason Payne-James, has raised issues with some of the conclusions drawn by Indian state-appointed forensic analysts in their report on Jiah's death.
Specifically, as per a Mumbai Mirror report dated 20 September, Payne-James has said that teeth marks on the actress' lower lip, which the Indian forensic experts have said occurred during the act (of suicide), are actually indicative of some "blunt force trauma to the mouth region (for instance, punching, or a hand placed over the mouth)".
Payne-James also objected to the Indian experts' analysis of the marks found on Jiah's neck — they had contended that these marks were caused by the dupatta the actress used "slipping downwards" whereas Payne-James believes the ligature marks are "too well defined to have been caused by a dupatta".
His report — according to Mirror — concludes that the "real possibility of a staged hanging subsequent to earlier death at the hands of another" was missed by Indian investigators.
In an interview given to DNA on 18 September, Rabia had discussed her decision to approach Payne-James for his analysis of the investigation based on the forensic evidence.
She told DNA: "I am not witch-hunting who killed my daughter, I just want the truth... The scientific evidence speaks for itself and it is plain for all to see. I believe the court will not let me down."
However, it remains to be seen whether or not the report prepared by Payne-James is admissible as evidence in court, since he is not a state-appointed expert.
Jiah Khan was found dead in her Juhu apartment in June 2013, in what seemed like an apparent suicide.
Within days, the police arrested Sooraj Pancholi, who she was then in a relationship with, on charges of abetment. He was let out on bail in July.
However, Rabia Khan later asked for a CBI probe into the case, stating that she was unhappy with the police's investigation — a request the court granted in July 2014.
Over 2015, the CBI launched its investigation, questioning Sooraj Pancholi, raiding his residence, and filing a chargesheet.
But in August this year, officers told a bench comprising Justice Naresh Patil and Justice Prakash Naik that, "The CBI has no reason to protect the accused (actor Sooraj Pancholi) in the case" and that Jiah's death was a case of suicide, not murder.
Rabia Khan has now petitioned the court for a SIT (Special Investigative Team) probe into the case.
In June this year, Sooraj Pancholi's lawyer had presented evidence to the police that seemingly proved Jiah had suicidal tendencies long before she got into a relationship with the Hero actor.