I got several calls complaining that the Pune police verification is slow; they ask for a pile of documents and that you have to follow up rigorously not only with the relevant police station but also use some ‘influence’ at the Pune police commissionerate!
So, in effect, if police verification is required for your passport, then you will have to wait for a month at least to finally get your valuable document. This negates the super efficacy of the Pune passport office in accepting your passport application, whether new or for renewal.
Check this out. On the same day, that is 5th August, when I visited the Pune passport office for my passport renewal, I received the following email:
“Dear VINITA VISHWAS DESHMUKH,
This is to inform you that a police verification request has been sent to the police department (refer the following table for details) for your passport application (re-issue passport issuance under normal scheme) submitted with file number PN10**********1. You are requested to get in touch with the respective police office if verification is not done in three weeks.
This means, the Pune passport office promptly sends it online to the Pune police commissionerate or station on that very day!
Today, one week later (12th August), when I called up my relevant police station, the constable said that you need to come to this police station only after you get an SMS on your mobile.
So, how many days is that going to take?
“I can’t say,” says the constable, “but I will ask the officer to hurry up your case.’’
Giving me any priority is not a point to score for the police station. The point is that, even after the passport division under the ministry of external affairs, (MEA) having directed the Pune police to hasten the verification process way back in 2014, not much has fast forwarded.
In contrast, the Andhra Pradesh police quickly got into the digitalisation mode almost at the same time and during the past five to six years takes 72 hours, on an average, for passport verification.
Several citizens in Pune are unhappy with the lethargic ways of the police.
One of them said that while the relevant police station had cleared it fast enough, the special branch of the Pune police commissionerate was taking unnecessary time. He had to use influence of a higher-up in the police to expedite the process.
Another problem is the list of documents, some unnecessary ones that the police stations ask for police verification and sometimes makes people re-visit for lack of documents.
RTI activist Jeetendra Ghadge of The Young Whistleblowers Foundation says, “Unnecessary documents are demanded by the police just to prove that the citizen lives at that address, several cases of bribery have also been reported during the police verification process, it is high time that the passport authority reconsiders the police verification process for address verification and restrict police involvement only to check the citizen's criminal background. Also, instead of sending the password via postal services, the citizen should have the option to collect the passport from the passport office itself so that the passport reaches on time with no scope for corruption in between.”
Mr Ghadge recently filed a Right to Information (RTI) application to the passport division of MEA seeking information for the period of 1 January 2015 to 31 December 2020, on various grievances of people who applied for their passports. This is for all of India.
He found that 20% complaints are regarding police verification. The central public information officer (CPIO) of the 'Passport Seva Programme' (PSP) division of MEA replied that a whopping 454,000 grievances had been registered on the passport portal. Out of these, a total of 95,899 complaints have been registered regarding police verification issues which is almost 20% of all the complaints.
Mr Ghadge rues, “Unfortunately on the query of action taken on the complaints received, the passport authority has refused to give any detail of action-taken on the grievances registered on the portal. This clearly indicates that the portal grievance system is not that effective when it comes to addressing the grievances of citizens. Despite filing the first appeal the passport authority has refused to give the details of action taken on the grievances registered.”
As per information obtained by Mr Ghadge, 8,632 complaints have been registered where the passport has been dispatched but was not received by the citizen. The passport authority should ask the citizen to collect the passport from the passport office instead of sending via post, he suggests.
Starting a proactive campaign from Pune, here’s a request for the citizens of Pune to write to me at [email protected] in
case they have had any problems with the police verification process.
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)