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Judge Shames CBI Over Jiah Khan Probe

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Judge Shames CBI Over Jiah Khan Probe

Judge Shames CBI Over Jiah Khan Probe

Mumbai: The CBI Wednesday registered a formal case to investigate the death of Bollywood actress Jiah Khan, five weeks after a Bombay High Court order, an official said.

The development came after the high court transferred the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and asked it to consider whether it was a case of suicide or homicidal death.

“If it comes to a conclusion that it is a homicidal death, then further investigation be made to find out who is the perpetrator of the crime and accordingly action be taken,” a division bench of Justice V.M. Kanade and Justice P.D. Kode had said in its order July 3.

A US citizen, Jiah Khan was found hanging from a ceiling fan in her Mumbai home 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 court said it was not expressing any opinion on the merits of the probe done by Mumbai police.

The court had directed the Maharashtra government and police to provide all necessary support to the CBI in investigating the case.

The judges said the forensic opinion obtained privately by petitioner Rabia Khan was at variance with that of 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.

“This shows how much concern that country has for its citizens. Look at our own agency which is refusing to do the probe… they (CBI) should learn from their (US) example,” he added.

The presence of the US consulate officials came in the wake of Rabia Khan’s letter to then US envoy Nancy Powell seeking help from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the probe, and the US agency saying it was prepared to do so if India permitted.

In October 2013, Rabia Khan did not insist on a CBI probe after the court directed police to record her statements and investigate the death as a murder case.

Police, however, again concluded that Jiah Khan had committed suicide and charged Sooraj with abetting it.

Undeterred in her quest for unravelling the truth behind her daughter’s death, Rabia Khan mentioned several circumstances in her petition which indicated that Jiah Khan could have been killed, and how police had allegedly discarded the opinion of a private forensic expert she had provided.

Accordingly, the CBI has now registered a case and started a probe into the death.

SOUTH ASIA

Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin

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Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.

The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.

Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.

Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.

Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.

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SOUTH ASIA

Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told

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The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.

The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.

Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.

“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.

Islamabad and its nuclear-armed neighbour India “continue to engage in a quantitative build-up and a qualitative improvement” of their atomic stockpiles, added Tony deBrum, a Marshallese government minister.

DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.

In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.

The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.

The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.

But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.

Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.

It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.

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SOUTH ASIA

Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus

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Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus

New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.

Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.

The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.

Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.

In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.

According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.

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