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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sections 409 read with Section 120B IPC and under Section 13(1)(c) read with Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (for short the ‘PCA’).- with wrongful intention committed threft of jack tree wood worth about Rs.10,000/- CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.19 OF 2013 ANTONY CARDOZA …. Appellant Versus STATE OF KERALA …. Respondent


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA


                        CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.19 OF 2013

ANTONY CARDOZA                          …. Appellant


STATE OF KERALA                              …. Respondent

                               J U D G M E N T

Uday U. Lalit, J.

1.    This appeal by special leave to appeal  arises  out  of  judgment  and
order dated 18.03.2011 passed by the High Court of Kerala  at  Ernakulam  in
Criminal Appeal No.249/2000(A) by which it was pleased to affirm  the  order
of  conviction  and  sentence  recorded  by  the   learned   Special   Judge
Thiruvananthapuram in CC No.3 of 1999.

2.    On 15.10.1997 FIR No.9 of  1997  was  registered  pursuant  to  Deputy
Superintendent  of   Police,   Vigilance   and   Anti   Corruption   Bureau,
Thiruvananthapuram reporting that in the vigilance inquiry it  was  revealed
to the following effect:
“A jack tree of about 40 years of age was cut and kept in  the  compound  of
10 Cents of land owned by  the  Kerala  State  Handicapped  persons  welfare
corporation Thiruvananthapuram at Pojoppura.  Shri Antony Cardoza,  Managing
Director of the Corporation got it removed and cut  into  convenient  pieces
on 24.06.1996 and took  it  to  his  residence  at  Alapuzha  on  25.06.1996
through  A Vasudevan Nair.  Shri Prabhakaran Nair, L.D. Accountant  met  the
expenses of Rs.690/- by way of labour charge  for  this  purpose  which  was
never  claimed  reimbursement   from  the  corporation.   Thus  Shri  Antony
Cardoza being  the  servant  of  the   Corporation  as  M.D.  with  wrongful
intention committed threft of jack tree wood worth about  Rs.10,000/-  which
was cut down and kept in the land of the corporation at Poojappura  and  Sh.
Prakahakaran Nair, L.D.  Accountant  intentionally  facilitated  Sh.  Antony
Cardoza in the commission of the offence punishable under  Section  381  and
109 IPC and Section 13(2) read with Section 13(1)(c) of PC Act, 1988.”

3.    In the investigation that followed the timber was found in the   house
of Shri Antony Cardoza, Managing  Director  of  the  Corporation,  i.e.  the
appellant, situated at Alappuzha.  Search list Ext.P9  bears  the  signature
of the wife of the appellant.   After  due  investigation  charge-sheet  was
filed against the appellant and Shri Prabhakaran Nair, L.D.  Accountant  for
having committed the  offences  punishable  under  Sections  409  read  with
Section 120B IPC and under Section 13(1)(c) read with Section 13(2)  of  the
Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (for  short  the  ‘PCA’).    Pending  the
trial, Shri Prabhakaran Nair, the second  accused  expired  and  the  matter
abated against him.

4.     It was alleged by the Prosecution that an extent of 10 cents of  land
was allotted to the Kerala State  Handicapped  Persons  Welfare  Corporation
(‘the Corporation’ for short) for construction of a building for  its  head-
office  from  and  out  of  land  wherein  the  quarters  of  Juvenile  Home
Superintendent are located.  There was a jack tree, a  mango  tree  and  few
coconut trees in this piece of 10 cents of land.  Said  jack  tree  was  cut
and timber thereof was lying on the plot.  It was alleged that  the  accused
in  conspiracy   got   the   timber   removed   in   a   mini   lorry   from
Thiruvananthapuram and the timber  was  transported  to  the  house  of  the
present appellant at Alappuzah.  It was the case  of  the  prosecution  that
the timber was sawn and transported to the house of the appellant under  the
instructions of Shri Vasudevan Nair.  Reliance was placed  on  Ext.P1  being
photocopy of the letter written by the appellant in  his  own  hand  on  his
letterhead, bearing his signature and Ext.P6 being a letter written  in  the
hand of said Shri Vasudevan Nair on the letterhead of  the  Corporation.  ).
We have been informed that the distance between these two  places  is  about
140 KMs. In defence no explanation was offered  for  the  presence  of  sawn
timber in the house of the appellant nor did he  offer  any  explanation  as
regards Ext.P1 and P6.

5.    After considering the evidence on record, the trial court  found  that
the offences under Section 409 IPC read with Section 120B IPC so also  under
Section 13(1)(c) read  with  13(2)  of  the  PCA  were  proved  against  the
appellant. The appellant was thus convicted under  the  said  sections  vide
judgment and order  dated  24.03.2000  and  sentenced  to  undergo  rigorous
imprisonment for three years and to pay fine  of  Rs.5,000/-  under  Section
120B IPC read with Section 109 and 409 IPC.  He  was  further  sentenced  to
rigorous imprisonment for a term of  three  years  and  to  pay  a  fine  of
Rs.7,000/- under Section 409 IPC and to rigorous imprisonment for two  years
and to pay fine of Rs.8,000/-  under  Section  13(1)(c)  read  with  Section
13(2)  of  the  PCA.   The  substantive  sentences  were  directed  to   run

6.    The matter was carried by the appellant  in  appeal  before  the  High
Court of Kerala at Ernakulam.   It was submitted that for  a  charge  to  be
proved under Section 409 IPC entrustment of the property has to  be  proved.
After considering the entire evidence on  record  the  High  Court  observed
that letters Ext. P1 and P6 revealed that the wooden  logs  were  under  the
control of the appellant and that the entrustment and misappropriation  were
established and there was no doubt that the property was taken away  by  the
present appellant.  The High Court thus  affirmed  the  view  taken  by  the
trial court as regards conviction and sentence.

7.     The  appellant,  being  aggrieved,  filed  Special   Leave   Petition
challenging the decision of the High Court. Alongwith  the  application  for
release  on  bail,  certificates  as  regards  medical  ailments  that   the
appellant suffers from, were also appended. This Court while issuing  notice
on 30.06.2011 was pleased to order the release of  the  appellant  on  bail.
The special leave to appeal granted vide order dated 02.01.2013.

8.    Mr. P.H. Parekh, learned Senior Counsel appearing  for  the  appellant
submitted that the ingredients of Section 409 IPC were not attracted in  the
present case.  It was further submitted that the timber was simply lying  in
the house of the appellant and that the property was not  converted  to  his
use.   Mr. V. Shyamohan, learned Additional Standing counsel  appearing  for
the State of Kerala –respondent, emphasized that the timber was found  at  a
distance of 140 Kms.  and  such  timber  was  never  accounted  for  in  the
accounts of the Corporation.

9.    Having considered the submissions of  the  learned  counsel  and  gone
through the record, we are of the view that the ingredients of  the  offence
under Section 409  IPC  are  clearly  attracted  in  the  present  case.  As
Managing Director of the Corporation,  the  appellant  was  having  dominion
over the property in  question  in  his  capacity  of  public  servant.  The
removal of timber from the plot in question to the house  of  the  appellant
at a considerable distance and non-accounting thereof in the  books  of  the
Corporation are very clinching  and  relevant  circumstances.  We  therefore
uphold the order of conviction as recorded by the Courts below.

10.   However, regard being had to the age  and  medical  condition  of  the
appellant, we deem it appropriate to  reduce  the  substantive  sentence  on
each count to simple imprisonment for one  year  maintaining  the  order  as
regards  fine  and  sentence  in  default.  The  appellant  is  directed  to
surrender within three weeks to undergo the remaining sentence.  The  appeal
thus stands partly allowed in the aforesaid terms.

                                  (Dipak Misra)

                                  (Uday Umesh Lalit)
New Delhi,
November 14,   2014

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