CERS asks MEA to streamline police verification process for passports

The consumer society has asked MEA and state government to streamline the police verification process with a check by a senior official to avoid harassment of citizens

Ahmedabad-based Consumer Education and Research Society (CERS) had asked the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) as well as state governments to streamline the passport verification process used by police personnel across the country in order to avoid harassment of citizens, especially seniors.


"Since the state police is paid for their services by the regional passport office (RPO), they are expected to give factual details rather than passport office taking their word for granted and record 'adverse' comments without anything adverse is found and in the process maligning or threatening honest, law abiding citizens," the consumer society said in a release.


CERS said it observed adversity in police reporting related to passport verification with a senior citizen. A septuagenarian citizen from Gujarat received a letter from the RPO informing about his 'adverse police report' due to non-cooperation on his part. However, the 73 year old was never contacted by the local police station either through phone, letter or personal visit.


The RPO sent him a standard warning letter to report to the passport office immediately else his passport would be cancelled. That too, when this gentleman had received his passport six months ago, in the meantime there was no verification conducted by the police. Through CERS, the septuagenarian has asked certain questions over the police verification process. He said, "...if the police does not do the job quickly or competently, the responsibility lies with RPO as the citizens pay RPO fees for the passport upfront. Can MEA-RPO proceed with the assumption that all citizens are potential criminals unless proven innocent? The whole system smells of either lethargy by not conducting the probe properly or expecting the citizens to chase the police to clear their file or questionable motives."


The consumer society had also asked the MEA to modify its standard letters and communicate to citizens the need to visit passport office. "With the issue of passport, all information about policy inquiry must be provided so that if citizens have to take initiative, they must know. At the same time, police feedback must be verified and a senior officer must check what attempt has been made by police to contact citizen and whether there is sufficient reason to assume 'non-cooperation' or 'adverse reporting'. The procedure of police inquiry, therefore, must be streamlined, monitored and authority of the police must be used with a sense of accountability and sensitivity. It is the duty of the RPO to verify the facts and ask the police dept. why they reached such a conclusion. The state government should advice all police stations to respect citizens, streamline their procedures and keep a track of attempts made to contact citizens along with factual details," CERS said in the release.


Arunendra Kumar is the new chairman of Railway Board

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet cleared Arunendra Kumar’s name for the post of Railway Board chairman

Ending a three-month wait and intense lobbying for the crucial post, the Railways on Wednesday appointed Arunendra Kumar as chairman of Railway Board.


Kumar, the member for mechanical on the Board, was holding additional charge as chairman of the Railway Board after retirement of Vinay Mittal on 30th June.


The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) had cleared Kumar’s name for the post of Board chairman and a formal order to this effect was signed by Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge.


However, after becoming chairman, Kumar will still hold the charge of member mechanical (MM) for some time as a decision for selecting the new incumbent for the post is yet to be taken.


The final selection of the chairman's post witnessed intense lobbying and infighting among the aspirants in Railways.


There were several representations from aspirants to the railway minister and finally the ACC took the decision on the basis of recommendations of Kharge after getting CVC clearance.


Appointments at higher posts in the Railways are in focus, particularly after the alleged cash-for-job scam unearthed by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in May.


Member for Staff Mahesh Kumar was arrested by the CBI for allegedly trying to become Member Electrical by giving a bribe.


Kumar was later suspended by the Railways and the post of Member Staff has been lying vacant since then.


Currently, the Railway Board is facing a peculiar situation with as many as three vacant posts waiting to be filled up. The posts of Member Mechanical, Member Staff and Financial Commissioner have been lying vacant for months and a decision has to be taken by the authorities.


Besides, nine posts of general managers are also vacant and 15 to 20 divisional railway managers (DRMs) are due for replacement.


Bajaj Auto Q2 net profit up to Rs837 crore on better op margins

Despite selling fewer vehicles, the company reported a profitable quarter with net profit and sales both increasing as it focuses more on high margin business

Bajaj Auto Ltd, the country’s second largest two-wheeler maker reported a 13% higher net profit during the second quarter on robust operating margins. The company claimed that this is its highest ever net profit earned during a quarter.

For the quarter to end-September, the Bajaj group company said its net profit rose to Rs837 crore from Rs741 crore while total revenues, including sales, increased to Rs5,062 crore from Rs4,817 crore, same quarter last year. Its operating profit stood at 20% during the second quarter.

According to the automaker, its operating margins are nearly three times the average operating margins of the auto industry and nearly double the operating margins of the nearest competitor.

The results were driven by improvement in international business, favourable rupee, focus on higher margin products and variable cost structure to weather downturns. It said, 75% of its total revenues are generated by business verticals which operate on EBITDA margins in excess of 20%. Bajaj Auto operates on an essentially variable cost structure. Fixed cost, including depreciation, interest and even employee cost, is under 8%. Bajaj Auto declared an all-time high operating EBITDA margin of 23.1% in Q2FY14 as against 18.7% in Q2FY13.

The company sold 8% fewer vehicles at 9.61 lakh units during the quarter when compared to a higher 10.5 lakh units for the September 2012 quarter.

As on 30th June 2013, surplus cash and cash equivalents stood at Rs6,391 crore.

On Tuesday, Bajaj Auto closed marginally down at Rs2,124 on the BSE, while the 30-share benchmark also ended marginally lower at 20,547.


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