Riniki Bhuyan Sarma, the wife of Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, has filed a Rs 100 crore defamation suit against Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who had alleged malpractice in giving contracts for personal protective equipment kits at above market rates.
Bhuyan Sarma filed the suit at the court of civil judge No 1 of Kamrup metropolitan district on Tuesday and it is likely to come up for hearing on Wednesday, her counsel Padmadhar Nayak said.
Another advocate Kishor Kumar Dutta told PTI that Sisodia while addressing a press meet on June 4 in New Delhi had made "some allegations that damaged the reputation and position" of Riniki Bhuyan Sarma.
"Sisodia unnecessarily dragged the name of Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma also into the controversy. That is why we have claimed that damage," he added.
Sisodia, referring to media reports had told newsmen that while the Assam government procured personal protective equipment kits for Rs 600 each from other companies, Sarma gave urgent supply orders to the firms of his wife and son's business partners for Rs 990 apiece.
The opposition Congress, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India-Marxist, Communist Party of India-Marxist-Leninist-Liberation, Revolutionary Communist Party of India, Trinamool Congress, Raijor Dal, Assam Jatiya Parishad and Anchalik Gana Morcha have demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the alleged corruption.
On June 1 digital media organisations -- New Delhi-based The Wire and Guwahati-based The Crosscurrent -- had 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.
Citing a series of Right to Information replies, the media portals claimed that all the four orders, placed between March 18 and March 23 of 2020, were bagged by three firms owned by Riniki Bhuyan Sarma and the family's business associate Ghanshyam Dhanuka.
In a tweet Sarma had refuted any wrongdoing in the supply of PPE kits to National Health Mission and said she did not take a "single penny" for them.
The present Assam government and Sarma have separately denied all charges that the chief minister's family was involved in the alleged malpractices and termed the allegations by the two digital media as "false, imaginary, malicious and of vested interests".
Sarma was the health and family welfare minister in 2020 during the first Bharatiya Janata Party-led state government.