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The special women’s court in Mumbai on Tuesday charged actor Sooraj Pancholi with abetment of actor Jiah Khan’s suicide in 2013. The sessions court has framed the charges against the 27-year-old actor, of abetting the suicide of his girlfriend actor Jiah Khan, to which he pleaded not guilty.

Special Judge K.D. Shirbhate framed the charge of Section 306 of the IPC (abetment of suicide) against the actor. The charge of abetment of suicide under Section 306 of the IPC attracts a maximum punishment of 10 years in jail.

Pancholi’s lawyer Prashant Patil withdrew the discharge plea he had submitted earlier. “Sooraj pleaded innocence and the examination of witnesses will start from February 14,” his lawyer Prashant Patil said.

According to the charge sheet, Jiah Khan, best known for her performance in film ‘Nishabd’ starring Amitabh Bachchan, was found hanging at her residence on June 3, 2013 by her mother Rabiya. This was after Jiah Khan had left the actor Sooraj Pancholi’s house that morning, where she had been staying for the last two days, in the morning the same day, it said.

Mr. Pancholi was arrested on June 10, 2013 on charges of abetment of suicide a week after Jiah’s suicide, and was granted bail by the High Court in a week. The CBI said that the note written by Jiah before committing suicide had established that Sooraj had ruined her life. The three-page note narrated ”intimate relationship, physical abuse and mental and physical torture” by the actor, which eventually led Jiah to end her life.

On Monday, the court had asked Pancholi’s lawyer Prashant Patil the status of his discharge plea. Patil had told the court that the CBI had till date not filed a reply on the discharge plea and he also sought the trial to begin expeditiously. On Tuesday, Patil did not press his discharge plea after the court directed that charges be framed in the case.

Jiah made a bold Bollywood debut with Nishabd, opposite Amitabh Bachchan and had also worked with Aamir Khan and Akshay Kumar in Ghajini and Housefull, respectively. Sooraj, on the other hand, made Bollywood debut with Nikhil Advani’s Hero, co-produced by Salman Khan and Subhash Ghai in 2015.

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