After 18 years of litigation, the Supreme Court has confirmed that a senior government official is guilty of corruption for taking home a 40-year-old felled jackfruit tree from his office compound.
A Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and U.U. Lalit upheld the lower courts’ orders that Antony Cardoza, former managing director of the Kerala State Handicapped Persons Welfare Corporation, was guilty of corruption, criminal breach of trust and indulged in a conspiracy to take the tree home for personal use.
An FIR lodged in October 1997 said the tree was cut and kept inside a compound owned by the Corporation. Mr. Cardoza, who was MD then, conspired to cut the tree into “convenient pieces” and trucked them to his residence, 140 km away in the adjoining district of Alappuzha.
The police document, reproduced by the Supreme Court in its November 14 judgment, said even the labour charges of Rs. 690 were met by his office accountant. These expenses were not included in the corporation’s account books.
“Thus Antony Cardoza, being the servant of the Corporation as M.D. with wrongful intention committed theft of jack tree wood worth about Rs.10,000 which was cut down and kept in the land of the corporation at Poojappura,” the FIR said. However, the court took into consideration his advanced age and reduced the period of imprisonment to one year.