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  4. 'See you in court': Assam CM Himanta vows to file criminal defamation case against Manish Sisodia

'See you in court': Assam CM Himanta vows to file criminal defamation case against Manish Sisodia

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that although the NHM issued the order, the company had raised no bill and the kits were gifted to the government.

Hritika Mitra Edited by: Hritika Mitra @MitraHritika New Delhi Updated on: June 05, 2022 7:05 IST
Sarma also accused Sisodia of refusing to take his calls to
Image Source : PTI

Sarma also accused Sisodia of refusing to take his calls to help Assamese people in Delhi when COVID was raging.

Highlights

  • CM Sarma vowed to file a defamation case against Manish Sisodia
  • Sisodia had claimed that Sarma had been involved in malpractices during in the supply of PPE kits
  • Earlier, the opposition in Assam had also demanded a high level probe to the same issue

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday vowed to file a criminal defamation case against Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia for alleging that the Assam government had given contracts to his wife's firms and son's business partner to supply PPE kits above market rates when the COVID-19 pandemic was raging in the country in 2020.

''Stop sermonising. I will see you in Guwahati as you (Sisodia) will face criminal defamation,'' Sarma said in a tweet. In another tweet, he stated that during the peak of the Covid Pandemic Assam hardly had any PPE kits. He went on to state that this was the reason why his wife donated 1500 PPE kits to the state government without charging even a single penny. 

The chief minister also attached a letter of appreciation from the then National Health Mission director Dr. Lakshmanan for providing the PPE kits as corporate social responsibility during COVID-19 by JCB Industries, of which Sarma's wife Rinki Sarma Bhuyan is a partner.

Sisodia in a tweet had attached the supply order of 5000 kits at the rate of Rs 990 from NHM to JCB Industries on March 18, 2020. The Delhi Deputy CM referring to media reports at a press conference in New Delhi on Saturday, said that while the Assam government procured PPE kits for Rs 600 a piece from other companies, Sarma gave urgent supply orders to the firms of his wife and son's business partners for Rs 990 a piece “taking advantage of the emergency situation.”

Taking on Sisodia, the Assam chief minister said that although the NHM issued the order, the company had raised no bill and the kits were gifted to the government. "Not a single penny was transacted, where is the corruption?'' he tweeted. ''Due to acute shortage then, every government, including yours (Delhi government) waived the tender for PPE kit and went for direct purchase. Don't cherry-pick from half the documents. Have the courage to put (forward) all the facts. Don't show half of a document trail, have the courage to put all the facts'', he wrote.

Sarma also accused Sisodia of refusing to take his calls to help Assamese people in Delhi when COVID was raging. "I cannot forget one instance when I had to wait for seven days to get an Assamese COVID victim's body from Delhi's mortuary .... Many phone calls went unanswered though we know each other very well''.

Earlier in the day, Assam government spokesperson Pijush Hazarika refuted all charges that Sarma's family was involved in the alleged malpractices in the supply of PPE kits during the pandemic as claimed by two media portals. The allegations are ''false, imaginary, malicious and can be attributed as the handiwork of a certain section with vested interests,'' Hazarika, also minister for water resources and information and public relations told reporters here.

''There was no scam in the supply of PPE kits. Why are the two organizations not going to the Court if they have evidence instead of making false and baseless allegations?" he asked. On June 1, two digital media organizations - New Delhi-based 'The Wire' and Guwahati-based 'The Crosscurrent' in a joint investigative report claimed that the Assam government had placed four COVID-19 related emergency medical supply orders, most likely without following proper process.

The opposition Congress, Raijor Dal, and Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) had separately demanded a high-level probe by CBI, ED, or any other central agencies into the alleged irregularities in the supply of PPE kits in 2020 by firms linked to Sarma's wife when he was the health minister in the previous BJP government in the state. Bhuyan has claimed that she did not take a "single penny" for supplying PPE kits and asserted that she had always been "transparent" about her "giving back to the society."

ALSO READ | Sisodia accuses Himanta Sarma of PPE contracts scam; Assam CM responds

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