Transport Commissioner K.R. Srinivasa said it was not the Transport Department alone that was "asked" to sell the stamps.

If you happen to visit a public office — a sub-registrar’s office, a tahsildar’s office or a regional transport office — in October or November, you may be coaxed to buy Army Flag Day stamps.

The amounts vary, from Rs. 5 to a couple of hundred rupees, depending upon the nature of the service and the paying capacity of the service-seeker. What has irked many purchasers is the absence of guidelines or a Government Order on the sale of these stamps.

Dasharathi K.V., who approached a RTO in the city for an international driving permit recently, was asked to buy Rs. 500 worth Army Flag Day stamps.

When he met the Regional Transport Officer and asked for the reason, the official said it was the practice since 1990. He was also told that the contribution was only “voluntary”. Finally, Mr. Dasharathi paid Rs. 300 and got 60 stamps.

Arbitrary?

Mr. Dasharathi, however, had a few questions, to which he did not get convincing answers. When he asked for a copy of the 1990 Government Order and the statement of accounts, the RTO told him that they were not readily available. He was asked to file an RTI plea instead.

Mr. Dasharathi told The Hindu that the procedure of selling stamps appeared “arbitrary”.He said, “The armed forces need not resort to raising funds in this manner as the Central government is capable of providing funds.”

However, Transport Commissioner K.R. Srinivasa said it was not the Transport Department alone that was “asked” to sell the stamps. Every government department that had a public interface was issued a certain number of stamps by the Department of Sainik Welfare.

Before December 7, the Armed Forces Flag Day, every department buys demand drafts for the number of stamps given to it and submits them to the Department of Sainik Welfare. Every stamp sold is properly accounted for and funds are remitted, according to him.

Prem Kumar Shetti, Director of the Department of Sainik Welfare, Karnataka, told The Hindu that the sale of stamps was a way to raise funds for the ex-servicemen and their families who had rendered service to the country.

The funds raised were paid in the form of scholarship to children and other beneficial schemes, he said. Last year, Rs. 1.94 crore was collected through sale of stamps, he added.

However, Mr. Shetti could not say why the department had not undertaken a publicity campaign about sale of stamps so that the general public was kept informed about the welfare scheme.