Passport Office, Coimbatore, has initiated action on a number of cases where the applicants had chosen to attach forged documents to obtain visas, writes V.S. Palaniappan

If an applicant presumes that presenting forged documents could be an easy way out to get a passport quickly, he or she could be facing legal action, says Passport Officer S. Sasikumar.

The Passport Office has so far detected 249 cases of forged documents being attached as address proof or photo proof. Cases have been registered in this connection and discreet police inquiry is underway in respect of 200 cases.

Use of forged documents such as PDS family card, Voter ID card, school transfer certificate and driving licence have come to light in many cases of tatkal applications. Since the Passport Office in Coimbatore is equipped with an online verification facility to check the genuineness of these documents, applications under the tatkal category have come down.

These fraudulent measures are only an indication of the presence of a few touts/brokers who mislead the applicants, Mr. Sasikumar adds.

He also says police inquiry would also prevent such practices.

The use of such forged documents as proof are now being weeded out in the pre-issue stage of passports processed under the tatkal category.

There are also cases of photographs in the original passport being switched to obtain visas. As many as 25 such cases were detected and the accused are now in judicial custody.

Mr. Sasikumar says in all these cases, a punishment of one year's rigorous imprisonment and a penalty of Rs.5000 or both is slapped on the offender.

But, once convicted, the career of the person is at stake. In cases of similar offences committed by persons who are not citizens of India, Section 12 (1) (A) of the Indian Passport Act is invoked, wherein the punishment ranges from five years' rigorous imprisonment and a penalty of Rs. 10,000 or both.

In addition to all these, the offence is liable for punishment under the provisions of Indian Penal Code i.e., Sections 467 to 471 also which prescribes punishment for forgery, forgery for the purpose of cheating, using a forged document as genuine and so on.