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PPE Kits: Assam CM files Defamation Case Against Manish Sisodia Over Graft Allegations

Earlier, it had been reported that Himanta's wife Riniki Bhuyan Sarma had filed a separate, Rs 100-crore civil defamation case against the top AAP leader.
Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. Photo: Wikipedia

Guwahati, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has filed a criminal defamation case against Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia for levelling corruption charges against him in connection with the supply of PPE kits at “higher than market rates” to National Health Mission authorities during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The news agency PTI has quoted Sarma’s advocate as having said this on July 1.

The case was registered in the court of chief judicial magistrate, Kamrup Rural on Thursday and listed on July 22 for initial deposition by the complainant, he said.

The case pertains to Sisodia’s allegation of supply of PPE kits at higher than market rates during the first wave of COVID-19 to National Health Mission, Assam by JCB Industries, which is co-owned by Sarma’s wife Riniki Bhuyan Sarma.

Sisodia’s allegations against Sarma drew from a series of investigative reports jointly run by The Wire and Guwahati-based news site The Cross Current earlier in June.

Riniki Bhuyan Sarma herself had reportedly filed a Rs 100-crore civil defamation case against the top Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader at a local court in Guwahati.

“Manish Sisodia had levelled corruption charges against Himanta Biswa Sarma at a press conference in New Delhi on June 4. He had specifically claimed that NHM had procured PPE kits at inflated rates from a company co-owned by Sarma’s wife during his tenure as the state’s health minister in 2020,” Sarma’s advocate Devojit Saikia said.

Claiming that the allegation is baseless, Saikia said, “On being aggrieved by the allegations levelled against him and not receiving any clarification on the matter later, Sarma decided to seek legal remedy and file a criminal defamation case.”

He claimed that the PPE kits were donated by JCB Industries.

On June 4, chief minister Sarma had taken to Twitter to deny Sisodia’s allegations of corruption against the former and his wife, saying that he would see the AAP leader soon in Guwahati and threatening him with a criminal defamation suit.

The Wire and The Cross Current’s series of investigative reports, based on government orders and procured through RTI applications over a protracted period of six months, can be read here: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5, and Part 6.

(With PTI inputs)

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