If a foreign government has already apostilled a document, then why it needs attestation from the Consulate General of India? Furthermore, why should the NRI do this process for a document like PAN card issued by the Indian Government itself
Indian diaspora (or foreign nationals) wanting to do business in India have to still go through laborious processes for simple things, taking up a lot of time and money. If you live abroad and want any document (such as your PAN card, issued by Indian government) to be recognised by the Government of India, it has to be Notarised by a Notary Public, then Apostilled (An "apostille" is a form of authentication issued to documents for use in countries that participate in the Hague Convention of 1961 - India is a signatory) and finally attested by the Consul General of India in that country. The originals have to be sent across to India for further processing.
I had to get some documents attested and it took me full two days (yes!) of running around to get it done. And I may have been lucky!
First off, the person advising me from India did not know the process correctly and told me to go to the Indian Consulate (the closest one to me is at San Francisco (SFO), about 100 kms) to get the documents apostilled. It was a long two and a half hour drive. By the time, I reached there it was already 11am and the Indian Consulate accepts applications only till 12 noon. The official at the Consulate was courteous and professional but declined to take my papers because I had not notarised / apostilled the documents. Apostilling for those who live in the SFO area is done at Sacramento, about 200 kms away. By now, it was noon and I had to rush across to get it done by 4PM or I would have lost a day.
Therefore, off I went to Sacramento and about halfway there, I stopped at a Notary Public's office and got my documents notarized. I pulled up at the counter in Sacramento office and the official looked at the documents and rejected three (I had a total of four) saying the wrong paper was used by the notary.
The clock was ticking down and I was getting desperate and I needed some good luck and to my pleasant surprise, the person standing behind me in the line, a fellow Indian American who too had come to apostille some documents was coincidentally (!) a Notary too! We found a quiet corner and Gary Sahota walked me through the process, took signatures and I was done before the counter closed.
How often does it happen that you have a person with the exact skill set right when you need him? As we were leaving, I remarked to Gary that "he made my day" and he ever so humbly pointed upwards and that said it all. Touching moment!
We were chatting briefly and he mentioned that he too was an IT guy in a previous life and had started doing Notary work recently. A shout out to Gary for all those living in the Bay Area. He knows all the kinks in the Government procedures (for instance India and China want the notarisation/ apostilling done on the same page) and getting things done first time is considered a miracle!
Armed with Notarised and apostilled documents, I set sail (I meant drive!) to SFO and this time too, ran into the same official at the counter and got the documents submitted by 10:30am. To my surprise, I was asked to come back by 4pm. My whole day was spent just waiting around to get the signed documents.
And that got me thinking, that there must be a better way... If a foreign government has already apostilled a document, then why should it again be attested by the Consulate General? This seems to be a duplication of effort. Furthermore, why should I do this process for a document (e.g. PAN card) that the Government of India issued me? Do they not trust their own card?
Imagine if I were to live in Seattle or Portland along the West Coast or in Denver Colorado. They will have to mail documents back and forth and iterate till the cows come home! In my humble opinion, an apostilled document is enough proof of the genuineness of the document.
In the Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised self-attestation and if he acts on his promises, it will go a long way in convincing sceptics that this Government is serious about governance.