Delhi court cites Article 19 while hearing a plea to ban THE DELHI CROWN over adultery reportage
Plea filed by “Assistant Manager” of FCC of South Asia Chhaya Sharma, who’s accused of adultery
Delhi Crown Bureau
New Delhi: A lower court in Delhi cited the Article 19 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees the freedom of speech and expression, while hearing a civil suit on Tuesday (May 16) filed by one Ms Chhaya Sharma, who claimed to be the Assistant Manager at the foreign journalists’ club in the Indian capital. Though she failed to produce any Appointment Letter, or any other document, to support her claim of “employment” at the said Club.
Chhaya Sharma remained absent during today’s hearing at the court.
Contesting a report by www.thedelhicrown.com published around four months ago over the alleged extra marital affair between her and one Advocate Umesh Sharma, Chhaya Sharma (through her counsel) pleaded that the online portal be banned from publishing any news content.
The portal www.thedelhicrown.com had objectively reported an incident which had taken place at the main gates of the Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC) of South Asia, situated right opposite the Supreme Court of India, on January 17 whereby Advocate Umesh Sharma’s wife, who too is a leading lawyer in Delhi, had come (in an agitated mood) to have a direct-dialogue with Chhaya Sharma over her “illicit affair” (read adultery) with her husband Advocate Umesh Sharma.
However, the lady lawyer was stopped at the Club’s main gates by the security guards, and denied entry.
The FCC of South Asia is a prestigious journalists’ Club, frequented by both foreign and Indian journalists, besides a range of professionals, mostly lawyers, academicians, diplomats and government-servants.
The incident had created quite a furore at the Club, with voices raised for dissociating the Club from Chhaya Sharma’s “activities”, and also removing her from “service”.
According to sources, Chhaya Sharma is a “contractual worker” at the Club, and works there on a freelance basis, having no permanent employment at the Club.
Hearing the present civil suit, Civil Judge Ankit Karan Singh asked Chhaya Sharma’s counsel Advocate Gagandeep Kulyana, “Have you read Article 19…..what it says…? How can you demand a ban on a news-portal…?”. A sheepish Adv. Gagandeep Kulyana looked at the judge with a blank face….!
“Why are you standing so far, on the edge of the table…..Come in front of me and reply – Have you read Article 19 of the Indian Constitution….?,” thundered the Civil Judge even as Adv. Kulyana failed to utter a word.
In the present suit, senior journalist Pankaj Yadav, who is ex-Treasurer of the FCC of South Asia, has been made the Defendant No. 1, while his lawyer – Advocate Sunita Bhardwaj has been made the Defendant No. 4. Incidentally, Advocate Sunita Bhardwaj had defended Pankaj Yadav in another civil suit filed by Advocate Umesh Sharma before Patiala House Court in December 2021, which was withdrawn in April 2023 on the direction of the current Managing Committee of the FCC of South Asia.
According to sources, senior journalist Pankaj Yadav has been accredited with the Government of India’s Press Information Bureau (PIB) for more than 23 years, and currently writes for various international publications/news-organisations. An alumni of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC)-New Delhi, Pankaj Yadav has worked at various media organisations, both national and international.
Speaking to www.thedelhicrown.com Yadav said, “I don’t know why I have been made one of the Defendants in the present civil suit filed by Chhaya Sharma before this honourable court. I have nothing to do with any of the reports published about the (alleged) illicit affair between Chhaya Sharma and Advocate Umesh Sharma.”
Yadav, who is also a law graduate from the Delhi University, was represented by a battery of lawyers during today’s court hearing. Besides Advocate Sunita Bhardwaj, senior Advocate and Executive Member of the Delhi Bar Association (DBA) Pujya Kumar Singh, lady Advocate Manu Bala, Advocate Ajit Kumar and Advocate Rahul appeared on behalf of Pankaj Yadav.
Advocate Sunita Bhardwaj told the lower court, “there have been instances when Chhaya Sharma and Umesh Sharma travelled together to Goa and stayed inside the same hotel room. Both have been in regular touch amounting to adultery.”
To the Civil Judge’s remark that adultery has been decriminalised in India, Adv. Sunita Bhardwaj argued, “But it remains a social curse, a social evil as far as the Indian society is concerned.”
The next date of hearing of the said civil suit is in July.
Meanwhile, the alleged extra-marital affair between Chhaya Sharma and Advocate Umesh Sharma is a hot-topic among the members and the staff of the FCC of South Asia. A Club’s ex-office bearer told www.thedelhicrown.com , “It is true that Advocate Umesh Sharma’s wife had come charging at the Club in January, and there was a big scene created at the Club’s main gates. It is also true that for a full two hours when Advocate Umesh Sharma’s wife stood at the main gates waiting to see Chhaya Sharma, the latter remained hidden inside the Club and could not muster the courage to come out and face her (Adv. Umesh Sharma’s wife). It is also true that the staff-members at the Club talk in a hush-hush tone about the illicit-affair between Chhaya Sharma and Advocate Umesh Sharma. Both, Chhaya Sharma and Umesh Sharma, are often seen sitting together for hours together in Umesh Sharma’s car (Honda Amaze) bearing Registration Number UP16 ET 4546. It is also true that people have seen them Cosying Up and indulging in vulgar sex-acts inside the said car parked at the Supreme Court’s Parking during late night hours. It is also true that Advocate Umesh Sharma at times comes to the Club’s main gates to pick up Chhaya Sharma in late evening hours when she finishes her day’s work.”