Jiah Khan
Jiah KhanWikimedia Commons

The case of actress Jiah Khan's death is expected to take a fresh twist on Wednesday, September 21, when the Mumbai sessions court that is hearing the case will reportedly be told that the Bollywood celebrity had been murdered, and the death made to look like suicide. 

Jiah, whose real name was Nafisa, was found dead in her apartment in Mumbai on June 3, 2013. Her body was hanging from a dupatta tied to the ceiling. Initial investigation had suggested that she had been murdered, with human flesh found under her nails. But the Central Bureau of Investigation, which later took up the case, ruled it a suicide and also charged her then-boyfriend Sooraj Pancholi for abetment to suicide.

Jia's mother Rabia Khan, unsatisfied with the direction the probe was taking, had hired an expert, Jason Payne-James, from the United Kingdom-based Forensic Healthcare Services Ltd., whose findings she is expected to present in the court on Wednesday. 

According to a Mumbai Mirror report, the findings not only suggest that Jiah was murdered, but also that the act was made to look like suicide. This seems more in line with findings in earlier probes, like the allegation in the CBI chargesheet against Sooraj Pancholi that Jiah was four weeks pregnant with his baby, and that he had extricated the foetus with his own hands and disposed it in the bathroom

The findings by Payne-James, based on photographs of Jiah's body as well as screenshots of CCTV footage and images of her room, seem to point to foul play. For example, injury marks on her lower lip, which the CBI had ruled as being caused by "friction with the teeth," have been determined by Payne-James to be the result of "blunt force trauma to the mouth region." In other words, he said she was probably hit or beaten there. 

Payne-James has also reportedly contested the CBI's claim that the marks on Jiah's neck are consistent with the slipping of the dupatta from which she was found hanging. "It would seem unlikely that the diffuse pressure of the dupatta around the neck would cause the well-defined abraded ligature mark seen," he has apparently observed. 

He also thinks that the patterned abrasion on Jiah's chin could not have been caused by multiple knots on the dupatta, and that the investigators should have looked for other, patterned objects.

He has also reportedly observed: "I do not believe that the possibility of a staged hanging after death that has been caused previously has been properly considered." He added: "The marks on the left arm and the lower lip are consistent with assaultive injuries... The marks of ligature and the mark on the chin are not consistent with simple hanging with the dupatta."

The expert has also slammed the probe that has been conducted into Jiah's death so far, saying: "There are a number of serious misinterpretations (or exclusions of reasonable inferences) of the medical evidence, and that the apparent intention to attribute her death to suicide may mean that the real possibility of a staged hanging subsequent to earlier death at the hands of another has been missed."

Even as Jiah's mother Rabia Khan prepares to present this report in court, Sooraj's father Aditya Pancholi reportedly told Mumbai Mirror it would not be admissible because it was from a private organisation and paid for by Rabia.