Team mandated with the task of accelerating probe in passport cases in the ‘under investigation' stage, writes R.Rajaram

Long pendency in passport cases booked by the airport police has prompted city police to constitute a special team for expediting probe and filing charge-sheets.

Comprising two inspectors and four sub inspectors, the team has been mandated with the task of accelerating probe in passport cases in the ‘under investigation' stage, and appropriate instructions have been issued.

Over 375 passport cases booked by the airport police, upon complaints preferred by immigration authorities, were in the ‘under investigation' stage.

After detecting crimes by air travellers such as obtaining passport through fraudulent means, impersonation, and photo substitution in passport, the immigration authorities hand over the accused to the airport police for proceeding further with legal action.

In the last 15 months alone, immigration sleuths detected over 30 fraudulent cases wherein passports were obtained with fake names, bogus addresses and false documents.

Cases pertaining to impersonation, photo substitution, forged immigration stamp, and forged ECNR (Emigration Check Not Required) endorsement were also detected.

Sources say that despite the arrest of the accused, recovery of original passport and other documents could not be made in many cases.

The task of special team's would be to collect and scrutinise the files related to fraudulently obtained passports and secure the original passports issued earlier with correct names and addresses from the passport offices concerned. The team would also look into educational records of those accused who had been granted ECNR.

Prior to 2010, the government's sanction was necessary for the prosecution to file the charge-sheet. It was in early 2010, that the Central government authorised the Commissioners of Police of Chennai, Coimbatore, Tiruchi, Madurai, Tirunelveli and Salem and the Collectors of all districts in Tamil Nadu to sanction prosecution on behalf of the State government in respect of offences under Section 12 of the Passport Act, 1967, within their respective territorial jurisdiction.

A few years ago, a special team headed by an Inspector was constituted to expedite investigation in passport cases and file the charge-sheet within a timeframe. The team was also entrusted with the task of bringing to book the abettors of the crime including middlemen, touts and unauthorised agents, to create a deterrent effect. In due course, however, the team was wounded up.

It is felt that action against middlemen, touts and unauthorised agents too would go a long way in checking passport-related offences.

A separate wing headed by an Inspector could be formed to exclusively deal with passport cases to bring down the pendency, since the officers and men in the Airport police station are required to perform a host of duties.

A few years ago, a proposal was mooted to start a separate police station for Tiruchi Airport on the lines of the one in existence at Chennai with specific tasks including dealing with passport cases. However, that proposal is yet to fructify.