Preity Zinta-Ness Wadia Molestation Case: The Story So Far
The Bombay HC on 10 October quashed the molestation case against Ness Wadia filed by Preity Zinta in 2014.
It was one of the several fairytale celebrity romances gripping the imagination of the nation. Preity Zinta was Bollywood’s toast in 2005, as Ness Wadia was a business tycoon consolidating his empire. They were a good-looking and successful pair and in love.
Cut to June 13, 2014. Preity Zinta filed a complaint against Ness Wadia accusing him of molestation, threats and abuse. The police took four years to file the actual chargesheet against Ness Wadia (in February 2018) under sections 354 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code.
The Bombay High Court on 1 October 2018 suggested Preity Zinta and Ness Wadia consider "finishing off" the 2014 case. A division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharti Dangre was hearing a petition filed by Wadia seeking to quash the case. "Just finish it off now," Justice More said, while directing both Ness and Preity to appear before the court on 9 October.
A day later, on 10 October, the Bombay High Court quashed the molestation case filed in 2014.
So what exactly went wrong?
Love & Break-Up
Preity Zinta and Ness Wadia were reportedly in a relationship between 2005 and 2009. They made public appearances together and everything was right with the world. When quizzed about the romance on Rendezvous with Simi Garewal in 2007, Preity said:
“We don’t hide our relationship from the media. We go for parties together, we go to have coffee in Barista, we go for pizzas together… But I don’t talk about him or talk about how I feel. What do I say? Those are feelings I cherish.”Preity Zinta on Ness Wadia (On Rendezvous with Simi Garewal)
Everything was going smoothly, despite Ness’ mother, Maureen Wadia’s now-famous quip, “I don’t care even if Ness gets married to a zebra”.
In 2008, the couple took their relationship to the next level and bought the Kings XI Punjab team of Indian Premier League (IPL) together. A year later, they broke up, reportedly after Ness slapped Preity in a party.
The pair decided to continue their business relationship however, and remained co-owners of Kings XI Punjab and sort of “friends”. Preity said in an interview:
“We [Ness and I] had a great relationship. I have a lot of respect for Ness and I always will. But I think sometimes you want to take a different path in life, and if you have the maturity to see that, then life is great for both the people involved. When you date someone for that long, how can you not be friends? But we are not best friends. We don’t talk to each other every day because that’s weird! I’m sure if something ever went wrong he would stand by me and vice versa, but there’s nothing more than that.”Preity Zinta
The good cheer didn’t last long however. Preity Zinta filed a complaint against Ness Wadia accusing him of molestation, threats and abuse on June 13, 2014. In her complaint, Preity said that the two were only currently in a business relationship and had not been on speaking terms for some time following a couple of heated arguments regarding work.
“During that time he tried to abuse me and used extremely derogatory language and tried to behave in a manner where I was put to shame in front of my colleagues, friends and family... I say that Ness Wadia has gone to the extent of threatening me with dire consequences and intimidating me by boasting of his political clout and connections.”Preity Zinta in her complaint
The actor alleged that on 30 May, 2014, during an Indian Premier League (IPL) match at the Wankhede Stadium, Ness was allegedly abusing the team staff over ticket distribution when she asked him to calm down as their team was winning. He, however, allegedly abused and molested her by grabbing her arm.
“Mr Ness Wadia had intimidated me by saying that he could make me disappear as I was a nobody and only an actress and he’s a powerful person. I say that I have been tried to be very normal and nice to him as I wanted peace in my life, but the recent afore-stated incident in Mumbai at the Wankhede stadium has left me shattered and fear for my life.”Preity Zinta in her complaint
The actor also submitted four photographs to the police, showing “bruise-like” marks on her right arm, and took to Facebook to comment on the incident.
Preity Zinta also wrote to the then Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria, saying that Ness had been aggressive with her on earlier occasions as well.
“Ness’s behaviour towards me is getting more and more aggressive and violent over a period of time. From throwing burning cigarettes at my face to locking me up in rooms and manhandling me, I have seen it all with him... I just want him to be kept away from me so I can live in peace, otherwise one unfortunate day, in a fit of rage, he will kill me and that really scares me.”Preity Zinta in her letter to Rakesh Maria
Ness denied all charges in a statement, claiming they were “totally false and baseless”.
Enter Gene Goodenough
In August 2014, Gene Goodenough, an American whom Preity later married in February 2016, sent his statement regarding the case to the police through email. He supported her claims and said that he had intervened when Ness molested and abused her.
However, Andrew Miller, father of cricketer David Miller, in his email statement said that “he saw the estranged couple arguing but did not see Wadia misbehave with her as he was seated far away”, according to a police official.
As It Stands Now
Ness Wadia has filed a petition seeking to quash the case. Preity Zinta's advocate told the court that the actor is willing to settle the matter if Ness is ready to apologise. The lawyer said they were not insisting on a written apology.
Ness Wadia's counsel Abad Ponda, however, said the industrialist was not ready to apologise.
“We want to bury the hatchet, but my client (Ness Wadia) is not ready to apologise. The complainant (Preity Zinta) wants to extract an apology and get media attention.”Abad Ponda, Ness Wadia’s counsel
The bench then suggested the parties settle the matter. Ness Wadia and Preity Zinta are to appear before the court on 9 October.
(Additional inputs: PTI)
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