At least two years after the Mumbai Police registered a case of molestation and intimidation against industrialist Ness Wadia on a complaint registered by Bollywood actress Preity Zinta, Wadia’s statement was recorded on Thursday. According to sources, Wadia denied all allegations levelled against him by Zinta. In June 2014, the actress had lodged a complaint with Marine Drive police station in South Mumbai, accusing Wadia of molesting and intimidating her at the Wankhede stadium on May 30 that year during a match of the Indian Premier League (IPL). The two are co-owners of Kings XI Punjab IPL team. Wadia claimed that the altercation between the two broke out over seats, and that he never molested or intimidated her.
“Wadia claims that as co-owners of Kings XI Punjab, both he and Zinta were entitled to 15 seats. On May 30, their team was playing against Chennai Super Kings and since it was his birthday, he had decided to celebrate it with his family and friends and had even bought 35 extra tickets. Also, for the first time since he bought a stake in the IPL team, his mother Maureen had agreed to join him to watch the match . However, the front row seats were occupied by Zinta and her friends,” said a senior officer who spoke to The Indian Express on the condition of anonymity.
“Wadia adds that he first requested Kings XI Chief Operating Officer (COO) Fraser Castellino and then Zinta to vacate the seats. However, the actress refused, which led to bickering between the two. He denied the allegation of molestation and intimidation pressed by the actress,” added the official.
In pursuance of her case, the actress had even submitted four photographs which showed ‘bruise-like’ marks on her right arm to the Mumbai police. Zinta had claimed the ‘injury marks’ seen in the pictures were caused when Wadia allegedly molested her and grabbed her with force. The photographs were reportedly clicked by a friend.
A fortnight after registering the complaint the actress had written on Facebook that neither money or publicity was the motive behind filing the complaint. In the same month, while recording her statement before the police the actress had told them Wadia was abusing the team staff over ticket distribution when she was seated below the air-conditioned box in the Garware Pavilion. She asked him to calm down as their team was winning. However, he abused her and even molested her by grabbing her arm, she told the police.
In July that year, Wadia had shared the names of nine people who he claimed were present in the stadium and requested the police to record their statements. But initially, the police was unable to contact them as their contact details were not shared. Subsequently, the statement of all the witnesses have been recorded.
In August 2014, Gene Goodenough, an American national who Zinta married in February, 2016 had sent his statement to the police through email in connection with the case. “In his statement, Goodenough supported the claims made by his wife stating that he had intervened when Wadia molested and abused Zinta. He asked Wadia not to misbehave with a woman,” said a senior official. Another foreign national, Andrew Miller, father of cricketer David Miller, also sent his statement through an email. “Miller, on the other hand had said he saw the estranged couple arguing but did not see Wadia misbehave with her as he was seated far away,” added the official. Last November, Zinta recorded an in-camera statement under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) before the 18th metropolitan magistrate court in Girgaum.
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