‘We don’t want passports’

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Nandini Chandrashekar, Bangalore, Dec 13, 2013, DHNS: At a time when most people go to almost any extent to expedite the issuance of a passport, some people seem to be quite nonchalant about getting one.

More than 9,000 applications have been pending with the Regional Passport Office (RPO) in their ‘policy section’. This means that these applications have been kept pending since April 2011 because of various reasons such as insufficient documents, child adoption-related issues, documents that are not credible and other factors.

As part of a clearance drive, the RPO here started sending notices to these applicants to appear with relevant documents so that passports could be issued to them. But to its surprise, it found that not many were interested in responding.

The Regional Passport Officer, P S Karthigeyan, said that even adalats were being held on a regular basis to clear these files. “We have sent letters to about 2,500 people since October 2013. But so far, just about 600 have turned up. We do not know why people are not interested in taking their passports.”

While 150 people turned up at the last adalat in response to these notices, there have been days when as few as 12 people turned up in response, another official said. The RPO has designated Wednesdays to sort out issues related to such pending cases. With the lukewarm response to their notices, they have no option but to close these files.
Normally the time given for an application to be kept open is one year.

But in many cases, it has been more than two years. “The first time we issued them a notice, we gave them 14 days’ time to respond with proper documents. We will give them one more notice to respond within 14 days and if they fail to do so this time around, the files will be closed. The applicants will have to apply afresh after providing reference to this application,” Karthigeyan clarified.

Insufficient documents and fake documents are the two main reasons for these applications to be kept on hold. Officers at RPO say the voter’s ID card is one of the main documents that is found to be fake. “There have been instances when people have come with three or four voter IDs and asked us to take any one of them,” an official said.

Meanwhile, pendency caused by delays in police verification has reduced drastically. While there are a little over 11,000 cases pending with police in Bangalore, around 70 per cent of the applications are being cleared within 21 days

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