We go by rules in public interest: Passport Officer

Many passport applicants coming from faraway towns in southern districts and from Madurai city are upset over the allegedly shoddy treatment meted out to them by some staffers of the regional passport office here.

The applicants, including women, claimed that the staff at the verification counters behaved in an unfriendly manner.

Some of the applicants who spoke to The Hindu at the passport office said that their applications filed under tatkal were turned down by the staff on ‘flimsy' grounds. There was no responsible reply from those manning the counters, they charged.

A Theni woman, who wanted a fresh passport under tatkal, said that the staff also insisted on obtaining an undertaking (from her) stating that she was not residing in the address given in the application and was working in Chennai.

A lad from Nagercoil said that he had recently got an opening in an overseas firm. In a bid to get the ticketing and visa procedures completed swiftly, he had sent his passport through a private courier. However, the passport was lost in transit. Even after obtaining a first information report from the local police station, the passport office staff here “ unnecessarily delayed my application for a duplicate.”

A senior citizen from Madurai, who had planned to go to the US in August, said that though the passport office had streamlined the entry through e-appointment and introduced SMS facility for the applicants, the employees must handle the visitors pleasantly. “When it takes more than two hours to reach the counter, the staffers do not even listen patiently,” he pointed out.

When contacted, Passport Officer (Madurai region) Jose .K. Mathew said on Monday that the rules were clear for issuance of fresh passports. The applicants were requested to follow the guidelines and familiarise themselves while appearing before the staff with all valid documents.

Further, he said that the staffers were trained to scrutinise the documents. It was only in public interest that checks were done as per rules at the time of submission. Any carelessness of the staffers might land them in trouble. Hence, they would continue to be strict while verifying the applications.

Assurance

He assured to look into the allegations of of shoddy treatment.

Some staffers claimed that despite shortage of staff, they handled 500 to 600 passport applications daily. They wanted the public to discourage touts who, on most occasions, caused trouble to the gullible public.

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