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Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 2pm

#PK: 'Pandit' ordered to pay £45,000 damages after defaming prominent British Hindu figure

'Pandit' Raj Sharma

In a storyline that could have been plucked straight out of Aamir Khan’s recent religious satire ‘PK’, a self-professed Hindu priest has gone AWOL after being found guilty of sending defamatory emails about a prominent member of the UK’s Hindu community.

Pandit Raj Sharma was found guilty by a High Court judge last month of circulating the emails about Mr Satish K Sharma, General Secretary of the National Council of Hindu Temples UK (NCHT), in April 2013.

Mr Sharma was awarded £45000 in damages and Pandit Sharma was also ordered to pay costs of more than £24,000.

Judge Moloney QC was told that Pandit Sharma had sent the emails – dated 27th and 29th April 2013 – to dozens of leading figures within the British Indian community, including trustees of NCHT, Members of Parliament as well as Lord Navnit Dholakia, the Liberal Democrat peer.

In the emails Pandit Sharma had accused Mr Sharma of maintaining “business links” with a convicted fraudster who happened to be the latter’s brother-in-law, an allegation that Mr Sharma vehemently denied.

Pandit Sharma also made numerous other allegations about the claimant’s conduct after the duo fell out over a dispute arising from the reorganization of NCHT when Pandit Sharma was replaced as General Secretary of the organization by Mr Sharma.

Judge Moloney ruled that the emails contained “allegations of the utmost severity”, implied wrongdoing on Mr Sharma’s part but that the allegations were untrue.

Mr Satish K. Sharma

According to reports, Pandit Sharma – who failed to appear at the legal proceedings – is now in contempt of court after failing to respond to the judgment against him whilst Mr Sharma’s lawyers have thus far failed to locate him at the residential address he had provided.

In his LinkeIN account, Pandit Sharma refers to himself as ‘Pandit Dr Raj Sharma’ and describes himself as ‘President’ of the ‘Hindu Priest Association UK’. 

However, Pandit Sharma does not provide any contact details for the organization.  The Association also does not have a website.

One source told the UKAsian that the organization does not exist.  A representative for the National Council of Hindu Priests UK – widely considered the apex body representing Hindu priests in Britain - said he was not aware of an organization called Hindu Priest Association UK.

The dispute between Pandit Sharma and Mr Satish Sharma apparently arose after the former was replaced as General Secretary of NCHT by the latter.

According to the source, Pandit Sharma was removed from his post after discrepancies emerged about his qualifications both as a Hindu priest and as a medical doctor.

The source told the UKAsian that the British Medical Association had no record of him, and it was revealed that he was performing Hindu religious rites that were “grossly incorrect”.

Today, Mr Satish Sharma told of his “relief” at the conclusion of an “unpleasant” episode which had caused “tremendous pain and suffering”. 

“It was particularly bad because these baseless allegations were damaging to me because my position as General Secretary of the NCHT was one that is based on personal and professional integrity”, Mr Sharma said.

The emails emerged at the time when the NHTC was fending off attacks on Britain’s Hindu community as a result of a parliamentary debate about caste discrimination. 

At the time Mr Sharma had offered to resign his position, not wanting the emails to be a “distraction” for the NCHT’s campaign.  However his resignation was unanimously rejected by the NCHT.

Several telephone calls by the UKAsian to a number at Pandit Sharma’s listed address went unanswered.

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