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Affidavit breather for Nitish
- Witnesses retracted after admitting to payoff: CBI

The CBI today filed an affidavit in Jharkhand High Court, saying no legal action could be made out against Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and JD(U) MP Shivanand Tiwari over allegations that they were recipients of fodder scam money.

The affidavit, however, confirms that witnesses examined by the agency during the investigation had initially said that Nitish and Tiwari did receive ill-gotten money, but later withdrew their statements.

Therefore, the CBI argued, there is no case against the duo.

The affidavit could trigger a political storm in Bihar.

Former chief minister Rabri Devi fired the first salvo, saying Nitish should step down. “The CBI is protecting Nitish Kumar. A proper investigation should be conducted against the two. The witnesses must have withdrawn their statements against the two under pressure,” Rabri said.

The JD(U) said the affidavit was proof that there was no evidence against Nitish. State unit president Bashishtha Narayan Singh said: “Their (Nitish and Tiwari) names were mentioned in the early stages. Now the CBI has filed its affidavit and they have given a clean chit to both leaders. It was just an allegation and now it has been proved that there is no evidence that they had taken fodder scam money.”

The agency, in its affidavit filed by deputy superintendent of police Ajay Kumar Jha, said that in the course of investigation of the fodder scam cases, it had recorded the statements of witnesses Umesh Singh (a vigilance section officer), Vijay Mallick (supplier) and R.K. Das (animal husbandry official).

All three witnesses had confessed before the CBI investigating officer that the fodder case kingpin, SB Sinha (now deceased), had given money to Nitish and Tiwari, the affidavit says.

While witness Umesh Singh is said to have paid Rs 1 crore to Nitish, Mallick and Das gave Rs 40 lakh. Air tickets for Australia and a sum of Rs 5 lakh for shopping in Delhi were also provided to Nitish by the witnesses, the affidavit says. Tiwari, then with the RJD and now a JD(U) Rajya Sabha member, was given Rs 70 lakh for the marriage of his daughter, the CBI has said.

However, while recording the statements before the special CBI court, which was conducting the trial of the case, the three witnesses made a U-turn.

They retracted their statements made earlier before the CBI investigating officer. The special court, left with no alternative, could not record the statements of the witnesses. Hence, no case could be made out against Nitish and Tiwari, CBI counsel Mokhtar Khan said today.

The matter had come up on a criminal writ filed by one Mithilesh Kumar Singh.

The case will again be heard on December 13.

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