Residences of seven clerks of Regional Passport Office searched

Raids carried out by the CBI earlier this week at the residences of seven clerks of Regional Passport Office, Tiruchi, on the basis of complaints that 104 passports had been issued to applicants of Sri Lankan origin belonging to Tiruvarur district, allegedly based on forged documents during 2011-12, has understandably dented the morale of the 63 employees.

Top officials said the role of the seven clerks named accused by the CBI was confined to just processing the documents routed through the District Passport Cell (DPC) after the procedure of police verification was completed for the applicants all of whose addresses were within Paravakottai police station limits. The employees wonder how they would be able to determine if the documents, particularly family cards, routed through the District Passport Cells, were forged, or if there was any let up in police verification. Even after the opening of Passport Seva Kendras in 2011 in Tiruchi and Thanjavur districts, applications were received by the District Passport Cells until February this year when they were closed.

Since then the passports are being issued only through the two Passport Seva Kendras, where the scrutiny procedure involving biometric verification, is foolproof.

Last year, Regional Passport Officer K. Balamurugan wrote to eight district Collectors in the region requesting for vigil at the DPCs. Due to apprehensions that forged documents had been used, the Regional Passport Office had impounded 147 passports, including those of the 104 applicants, within Paravakottai limits.

In such a circumstance, the raids, a top official said, have had a demoralising effect since aspersions had been cast on the functioning of the Regional Passport Office that has been conducting a number of motivational programmes on working with a dynamic outlook not only for its employees but also for police personnel.