January 18, 2016 1:38:27 pm
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Monday appeared before a court in connection with a defamation suit filed against him by his former lieutenant and present BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma and said criticism was fair in politics.
Sarma had slammed a defamation suit worth Rs 100 crore in the court of the Civil Judge No 1 after Gogoi reportedly said that he (Sarma) was an accused in the Saradha and Louis Berger scandals. “I have never been named an accused as alleged,” Sarma asserted.
Gogoi, on the other hand, said he appeared in the court because be respected the judiciary. “He (Sarma) had sought an injunction from the court to stop me from saying anything about him. I am happy the court has not issued any injunction. But since there is an allegation against me, I will fight,” Gogoi, who was accompanied by a large number of Congress leader and workers to the court premises, said. The court here fixed February 8 as the next date of hearing.
He however maintained that he had never accused Sarma of being involved in the scandals, and that he had only referred to such allegations made by others.
“There is allegation against him (Sarma) made by Sudipto Sen (of Saradha). There are allegations made against him by the BJP that he was named in the Louis Berger scam. Why didn’t he file a suit against the BJP leaders?” Gogoi asked.
The octogenarian chief minister also said that criticism was always a part of politics. “Look how some people always mimic me. One TV channel has been airing mimicry on me for years. But I never complain that I have been defamed. In democracy, anybody can criticize others,” he said emerging from the court.
Sarma, once the most trusted lieutenant of Gogoi however rejoiced after taking the chief minister to court. “Today law has forced Tarun Gogoi to appear before the hon’ble court. In April will force him to appear in the people court and pay for his misdeeds,” Sarma, in a tweet, said.
Sarma’s lawyer Debajit Saikia said chief minister Gogoi had in a press conference in New Delhi on December 15 said Sarma was an accused person in the Saradha and Louis Berger scams. “Sarma filed the title suit worth Rs 100 crore against Gogoi on the basis of a news report appearing in The Assam Tribune the next morning. Since Gogoi has called him an accused, so we have submitted documents related to the two scandals to prove that Sarma was never mentioned as an accused by any investigating agency or court in both matters,” lawyer Saikia said.
Lawyer Saikia also said that while Sarma was summoned by the CBI as a witness in the Saradha scam, a chargesheet filed by an investigating agency in the Louis Berger case in a New Jersey court in the US did not have any mention of Sarma.
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