45,000 applications are pending for over 21 days
The ambitious Karnataka Guarantee of Services to Citizens Act (Sakala), which promises services of the State government to people in a time-bound manner, may turn out to be counter productive in the case of issue of passports.
For, the Union Ministry of External Affairs, under its Passport Seva Project seeks to deliver the passport in 30 days while Sakala grants the police a 90-day deadline to complete the address and age verification process of the applicant without which a passport cannot be issued.
This is “not good news” for passport applicants, Regional Passport Officer K.J. Srinivasa told The Hindu .
Police verification of the passport applicants is one of the 151 services brought under the Sakala initiative.
To ensure delivery of passports within 30 days, the Regional Passport Office had set aside 21 days for police verification. “Most of the applications are sent for police verification the very day they are received. After the police verification, the passports are sent for printing. The Passport Office does not need more than 8 to 10 days to complete its work,” he said.
Though the police verification of a majority of the passport applicants is completed within a week or two, thus paving the way for issue of passports within a month in most cases, the Regional Passport Office is concerned about the mounting number of applications that are pending police clearance for more than 21 days.
There are 45,000 applications pending across the State, including 20,000 in Bangalore alone, for more than 21 days, Mr. Srinivasa said.
But, Assistant Commissioner of Police (City Special Branch) Balaji Singh, who oversees police verification of the passport applicants in Bangalore, told The Hindu that his office receives about 850 to 900 passport applications every day.
“The passport office does not sort out the applications police station-wise. The applications have to be downloaded, sorted and sent to the respective police stations through intranet for physical verification of the applicants. If the entries are correct, it does not take more than a week. But, in some cases, the applicants enter the wrong jurisdictional police station, sending the police personnel on a wild-goose chase,” a police official said.
Mr. Singh said the Police Department does not have dedicated staff for the verification process. “The same police personnel who discharge regular duties have to carry out the verification process as well,” he said.
“Despite all this, we are managing to complete the verification process of 90 per cent of the applicants in one or two weeks,” he said.
Shalini Rajneesh, Secretary, Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (DPAR), who is in charge of Sakala, told The Hindu that the government could consider reviewing the 90-day period stipulated for police verification of passport applicants.
“Issues like staff shortage must be addressed if Sakala is to be made more meaningful,” she added.
Passport Seva Project seeks to deliver the passport in 30 days Sakala grants police 90 days to complete address and age verification process
Passport Seva Project seeks to deliver the passport in 30 days
Sakala grants police 90 days to complete address and age verification process