May 4, 2019
Ness Wadia finds himself on the wrong side of the law and the spotlight is once again on the 47 year old flamboyant elder son of Nusli Wadia, of the famous Bombay Dyeing group. Ness Wadia, scion of the 283 year old Wadia Group, one of India’s oldest and wealthiest business families, courts controversies and hogs headlines time and again, mostly for wrong reasons.
A Japanese court sentenced Ness who was caught with 25 grams of cannabis, a banned substance in his possession during his skiing trip to Japan in March this year. The drug found in his possession was of small quantity which Ness contended was for his personal use but was detained in Hokkaido Island’s district of Supporo. He spent some time in detention in Japan and returned to India recently. According to media reports the court handed him a two year jail sentence for possessing drugs.
The jail term is a suspended sentence for five years and hence will not be implemented unless Ness wants to repeat the offence within the next five years and gets caught. The sentence will not come in the way of Ness discharging his responsibilities as director of the companies he heads. Japan has strict drug laws which are now implemented zealously especially in view of the Rugby World Cup scheduled to be held in September to November this year and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The Japan drug incident is a latest addition to a series of controversies involving Ness Wadia, the spoilt rich brat of one of India’s richest business families. The great grandson of the founder of Pakistan Mohammed Ali Jinna, Ness Wadia hit headlines just a few years ago following an ugly spat with girlfriend Bollywood actor Preity Zinta who complained to the police and then filed a petition in Bombay High court in 2014 accusing him of molestation and harassment. Ness Wadia is the co-owner of IPL team King’s XI Punjab along with Preity and the incident of molestation apparently happened in Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium just before the commencement of an IPL cricket match between Kings XI and Chennai Super King.
It was only in October 2018 the molestation case was cancelled by the Bombay High Court after the matter was settled out of court by both the parties involved. In between in 2016 Ness Wadia once again courted controversy after a non-cognizable offence was registered against him following a complaint by his driver who alleged that the 47-year-old industrialist was forcing him to driver fast and assaulted and abused him when he failed to follow his orders.
Direct Descendent of Jinnah
While Preity Zinta has managed to overcome the negative aspects of her life and to lead a normal life Ness Wadia found himself in trouble once again even before he could heave a sigh of relief having coming out of the court battle against Preity Zinta. True, most of the controversies involving him are his own making. But it cannot be denied that Ness Wadia attracts media attention also because of his lineage. He belongs to one of India’s prominent business family – the Wadia group and he is the grandson of the politically important family, being the great grandson of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan.
Being the grandson of Jinnah from his maternal side Ness and his younger brother Jehangir are the direct descendants of Jinnah family. He is the eldest son of Nusli and Maureen Wadia of Bombay Dyeing, the flagship company of the Wadia group. His paternal grandfather Neville Wadia, a Parsi, had married Dina Wadia, the only daughter of Jinnah and his Parsi wife Rattanbai Petit. Ratanbhai Petits belongs to the two prominent and elite business families of Mumbai – the Patits and the Tata family. Jinnah’s daughter had married Neville in 1938 and they had two children – Ness’s father Nusli Wadia and daughter Diana Wadia.
The inter-faith marriage resulted in a rift between Jinnah and her daughter for some time. However, Dina’s marriage to Neville did not last long and they were separated in 1943 and later Dina is said to have reconciled with her father. After partition Dina chose to stay back in Mumbai till Jinnah’s death in 1948 and later moved to New York where she stayed till her death in November 2017 at the age of 98.
From his paternal side Ness belongs to the famous and India’s oldest conglomerates – the Wadia Group, which was founded way back in 1736 by Lovji Nusserwanjee Wadia who succeeded in getting contracts from British East Indian Company to build ships. Credit goes to Lolvji and his brother Sorabji for building the Bombay dry-dock, Asia’s first in 1750.
With a long history spanning almost 3 centuries the Wadia Group emerged as one of India’s successful business houses with interests in textiles, plantations, electronics, real estate, chemicals, food (Britannia Industries) and aviation (GoAir) and many more. Ness had his education in India and abroad and was tipped to succeed his father when he was appointed as Joint Managing Director of Bombay Dyeing in 2001. He had to step down in 2011 in favour of his younger brother Jeh Wadia. He heads the group’s Bombay Burmah Company and serves as director in other companies of the group. He is the co-owner of Kings XI Punjab IPL cricket team along with Preity Zinta. He was into a relationship with Preity from 2005 until 2009 and that relationship took a new high when they decided to co-own the IPL team in 2008. Unfortunately his troubles also began after he got hold of the IPL team.
According to reports Ness’s mother Maureen Wadia was not in favour of her son’s relationship with Preity. Later it is alleged that Ness had slapped Preity at a party in the presence of her friends and she finally walked out of the 5 year old relationship. In 2014 the two fought openly during an IPL match which finally went to Bombay High court and the incident grabbed headlines for several weeks. Both Ness and Preity agreed for an out of court settlement last year.
The spat with Preity rendered another blow to Ness when one of their close friends Gene Goodenough of US (whom Preity was dating) decided to standby Preity by giving witness when she was fighting the harassment case against Ness. He supported Preity’s claim of harassment saying that he had intervened when Ness molested and abused her in Mumbai. Gene was Senior Vice President of US based hydroelectric power company and Zinta once again found true love in Gene and they got married in 2015 in Los Angeles.
While Ness Wadis is known for his flamboyance and arrogance his younger brother Jeh Wadia shuns spotlight and has stayed clear of controversies. He is married to Celina, an Austrialian and is the Managing Director of the group’s flagship company Bombay Dyeing. He is also the Managing Director of budget airline GoAir.
There seems to be no reprieve for Ness Wadia from his troubles as the Board of Control for Cricket in India is mulling cancellation of IPL accreditation of Kings XI Punjab team he owns for bringing disrepute to the team, the league and the game. BCCI wants to refer the matter to the cricket board’s ombudsman to determine further course of action. The cricket body wants to ban Ness Wadia from all cricketing activities for life. IPL’s code of ethics clearly state that no person associated with any franchise can bring any disrepute and they can be suspended. It can be recalled that CSK and Rajasthan Royals were suspendered for IPL for illegal betting and match-fixing in 2015. The issue will be discussed by the Committee of Administrators in its meeting to be held in a day or two.