Police need not visit home for passport verification, says RPO

The Bengaluru RPO in Koramangala could become the epicentre for all external affairs matters for residents of Karnataka.   | Photo Credit: ANISHAA AHUJA

Did you know that the police need not visit your house to complete the verification process if you are a passport applicant? The Regional Passport Office (RPO), Bengaluru has conveyed to the police that their personnel can submit verification reports without visiting the applicants.

“The police need not verify the address of the applicant, or take his or her signature and photograph. This has been the system since this June. They only have to verify if the applicant has criminal antecedents, and his or her citizenship, which can be done without a visit,” said Regional Passport Officer Bharath Kumar Kuthati at an interaction organised by the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday.

But he maintained that it was the prerogative of the police to decide whether they wanted to visit a given address.

Police verification has often been a subject of dispute. Some applicants have cited the time taken, which ends up delaying the process of getting the passport, while others have alleged they are made to pay an additional ‘fee’.

However, the impact of the change on the time taken for police verification is likely to be known only later. “As we have just implemented [this system], it will be premature to say if it will reduce the time taken for verification,” Mr. Kuthati said.

‘Simplify the process’

Earlier in the programme, the FKCCI sought simplification of certain processes and easy access to officers.

Ramesh Chandra Lahoti, chairman, Civic Affairs and Urban Development, FKCCI, said procedures for valid passport holders who require additional booklets, and police verification for those who want to renew their passports, should be simplified.

“Middlemen and touts are still operating as people find it easier to go through them. The difficulties faced in getting online appointments need to be addressed. At present, it is difficult to get in touch with any of the senior officers for seeking clarification or assistance,” he said.

Mr. Lahoti also said there was a need for special counters for those with physical disabilities, senior citizens and businesspersons.

Sudhakar S. Shetty, president of FKCCI, said it was necessary to streamline the system for people from the business, industry and trading communities, as they often have to travel abroad on short notice. He suggested having exclusive counters for them.

To this, Mr. Kuthati said emergency cases would be treated as priority, with the RPO aiming to issue passport on the same day in genuine cases.

Videsh Bhavan in Bengaluru

The Bengaluru RPO in Koramangala could well become the epicentre for all external affairs matters for residents of Karnataka. Under the Ministry of External Affairs’ outreach programme for the States, a Videsh Bhavan is expected to be set up at the RPO.

In it will be the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, as well as the Protector of Emigrants and a Branch Secretariat — both of which are not in Bengaluru at present.

Wait time for appointments

Those applying for passports have been experiencing unusually long waits for appointments. By the RPO’s own admission, the waiting time for an appointment for normal applications is now 20 to 25 days, and 10 days for Tatkaal applications in the two Passport Seva Kendras in Bengaluru.

“We have had to redeploy people from here to the Post Office PSKs, which is why the waiting time has gone up. The volume of passports remains the same — 3,200 to 3,500,” said Mr. Kuthati.

PSKs in all 28 constituencies

The Regional Passport Officer said there was a proposal to establish Passport Seva Kendras in all MP constituencies (28 in Karnataka). At present, there are 17 PSKs — 12 of them Post Office PSKs. “We will be establishing 11 more in the next few months,” said Mr. Kuthati.

Indian deported due to error in passport pages

At the FKCCI interaction was Praveen Chowhan, a member of the federation who is into mobile phone distribution in Bengaluru, who narrated his harrowing tale owing to an error in the printing process of his passport.

He flew to Moscow on August 7 using his passport, issued in 2011. He was stopped at the Moscow immigration’s passport control.

“They asked me to wait. After four hours, I asked them what the problem was. They started taking my pictures and then told me that there was a problem in my passport. The page numbers were jumbled up. So after 8, came 14, 15, 16, and then 9, 10, 11. They said mismatch in page number was considered as a damaged document as per Russian law. After two hours, one officer came up and said I cannot enter the country, and that I will be deported,” he said.

The Indian embassy in Russia was of little help, Mr. Chowhan added. He was deported and landed in Bengaluru on August 8. After knocking on the doors of the MEA, and RPO, Bengaluru and the police, he will finally be heard by the RPO officials on Thursday.

“What surprised me was how little the embassy could help. I had travelled to Russia earlier with my old passport,” he added.

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Printable version | Jul 20, 2021 9:11:30 PM |

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