A Rs 100-crore defamation suit was filed against Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on Tuesday, weeks after CM Himanta Biswa Sarma said he will be filing a civil defamation case against the AAP leader for accusing the Assam government of giving contracts to his wife’s firms and son’s business partner to supply PPE kits above market rates during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
The case was filed at the Guwahati civil court on behalf of Himanta Sarma’s wife, Riniki Bhuyan Sarma.
On behalf of the CM’s wife, advocate Padmadha Nayak said, “As you know that on June 4, AAP leader and Delhi deputy CM Manish Sisodia called a press conference in Delhi and made certain remarks against my client, alleging that she had got a government contract to supply of PPE kits to the National Health Mission in March 2020. This is a completely false and defamatory statement.”
The advocate went on to say Rinki Sarma never even supplied any PPE kit as a business transaction to the NHM and, in fact, donated 1,485 such kits under corporate social responsibility.
“We have filed a civil defamation case against Manish Sisodia in Guwahati and we are expecting that the case will be listed tomorrow. We have claimed damages of Rs 100 crore,” Nayak said.
Sisodia and the Assam CM had engaged in a war of words after the AAP leader made the allegations. Himanta Sarma made a sharp rebuttal and threatened to file a defamation suit against Sisodia, asking him to “stop sermonising”.
Sisodia had alleged that the Assam CM took “advantage” of the Covid-19 pandemic. He claimed that while the Assam government procured PPE kits for Rs 600 a piece from other companies, the CM gave urgent supply orders to the firms of his wife and son’s business partners for Rs 990 a piece.
He also attached the supply order of 5,000 kits at the rate of Rs 990 from NHM to JCB Industries, the firm belonging to the CM’s wife, on March 18, 2020, to support his claims.
Sisodia further said the company did not even deal in medical equipment. “While the contract given to the firm of Sarma’s wife was cancelled as the company could not supply PPE kits, another supply order was given to the firm belonging to the business partners of his son at a rate of Rs 1,680 per kit,” Sisodia said citing a media report.
THE CM’s REBUTTAL
The CM lashed out at Sisodia and said the state did not have enough PPE kits in 2020 when the pandemic was raging across the country.
In a series of tweets, he wrote, “My wife gathered the courage to come forward and donated around 1,500 of them free of cost to the government to save lives. She didn’t take a single penny”.
The chief minister also attached a letter of appreciation from the then NHM director Dr Lakshmanan for providing the PPE kits as CSR by JCB Industries.
“Stop sermonising. I will see you in Guwahati as you (Sisodia) will face criminal defamation,” he said.