The initiative by the Pune Passport Grievance Forum has received overwhelming response from aggrieved citizens exposing the malfunctioning at the passport office. Since the story is the same throughout the country, let’s build up pressure by filing RTI applications
Our cell phones were constantly ringing yesterday after we announced a press conference that we would be holding the first citizens’ meeting on Saturday, 9th February in Pune, for those who have not received their passports in time. We have formed the “Pune Passport Grievance Forum” to address this issue. The issue is giving nightmares to citizens as their simple right to get passport in 45 days (three days, as promised by TCS—Tata Consultancy Services—but not delivered as yet) is being denied due to mismanagement of the passport office and alleged corruption.
The phone calls also came from cities like Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata where it seems the situation is as bleak. Thus, it is a national issue which needs to be addressed by citizens and NGOs in large numbers, across cities. Let us use RTI (Right to Information) too to keep up the pressure. The ministry of external affairs and TCS, which is in a public private partnership (PPP) venture, must be made accountable to deliver passports in time and without citizens being harassed.
The first step of harassment is: While you have to apply online, the next step of taking an appointment schedule online is the biggest hurdle. Applicants said that they have to open the website for appointment at 3pm but have to wait for weeks or months on end to get the appointment and have been told that bribing could work.
States Rupam Tripathi, a young chartered accountant from Pune who is still waiting for her appointment schedule since December 2012, “I had filled up the online Passport Renewal Forms on the 15 December 2012 for my parents and myself. The next was to get the appointment to go the Passport Seva Kendra. The instructions are to log in at 3pm and take an online appointment. I have tried numerous times to take the appointment at 3 pm. At sharp 3pm I log in to the site, and click on the time slot. Till one comes to the time slot, its good speed, but once you click the time slot, the system buffers for about five minutes and then a message is received that all 650 appointments for the day are given, please try again tomorrow. I wrote to the passport helpdesk but they have sent me a standard reply of continuing to re-try. I am frustrated. I also spoke to couple of people who are in the travel business on how to go about getting an appointment; I was told that on payment of Rs500 the appointment can be obtained. I am not ready to give any bribe as I would like to have the passports through proper channel.’’
The standard reply given by the passport helpline desk to Rupam Tripathi is thus:
“Dear RUPAM TRIPATHI, Greetings! Please note that your request reference ID is 12201187xxxx and the description provided by you is: I have online made application for 3 renewals. ARN nos being 12 000345xxxx, 12 000346xxxx and 12 000346xxxx. I have been trying to take an appointment from the 15.12.2012 and every time I get the response slot not available. Trying the helpline no but cannot get through. Please advice on how to get an appointment. Thanks
Please find enclosed response in this regard as follows:
We request you to schedule a separate appointment for each applicant to visit the Passport Seva Kendra (PSK). Fresh appointments are released at 3 PM. Please refer to the News and Announcements section on home page of our website: www.passportindia.gov.in for availing information regarding schedule of appointments and Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) wise mapping of districts.
Please try again, recheck the availability of slots and schedule the appointment according to the availability of slots as appointments are limited and available on first cum first serve basis. We solicit your cooperation for the same. In case you are unable to schedule online appointment, you may contact the respective Regional Passport Office (RPO) along with the printout of your Application Reference Number (ARN) for appointment. RPO will consider such cases and will give staggered appointments keeping in view the load/capacity at the respective Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) under their jurisdiction. Tatkaal and other urgency applications will be given preference in allotting appointments. The information regarding the same is provided in the Advisory for Applicants available at the lower left corner of the website: www.passportindia.gov.in .
Please follow the below mentioned steps to schedule the online appointment as it is a mandatory process: i) Please visit our website www.passportindia.gov.in ii) Login with your User ID iii) On Applicant Home Page, select your Application Reference Number (ARN) iv) Click the Manage Appointment link. Option for scheduling the appointment is displayed v) Choose the appropriate time from the slots available for appointments vi) An Appointment ID is generated
This is to further inform you that password of the User ID created on our portal expires after every 60 days. This provision has been made keeping in view the security perspective. So, we request you to take print out of appointment details immediately after scheduling the appointment to avoid the inconvenience at a later stage. Please keep the print out of appointment details in safe custody till the date of appointment and carry the same along.”
Subsequent harassments: After the passport applicant gets his scheduled appointment and documents are verified, many a time he does not get his or her passport in the scheduled 45 days and is made to run from pillar to post, in this case from the TCS’ Passport Seva Kendra to the Regional Passport Office to the police office to find out the status of his passport. In such a case, it would help to file a RTI application.
The information you can ask regarding the status of your passport application can be made as follows (two samples are given, you can choose one that suits you best)
The APIO or PIO of your passport office (write his/her address)
Subject: Seeking information on my application for passport under RTI
1. Please provide the daily progress made on my application.
2. Please provide the names and designations of the officers who were supposed to take action on my application and who had not done so.
3. What is the stipulated time frame laid out for generating and delivering a passport?
4. What is the stipulated time frame laid out for replying to query/information sought by applicants?
5. As the status stands now, how much time more is required by the RPO to generate and deliver my passport?
6. What actions would be taken to ensure the above?
(The above sample is courtesy Vijay Kumbhar, a Pune based RTI activist who had taken up the passport campaign in 2007 and now.)
Kindly provide me with the following information requested under the purview of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
Regarding: Reasons for the Passport Delay
File Number: ____________ and Year _______
Place: xxx (Passport Office)
Particulars of information required: As per list mentioned below list of information requested
1. Daily progress made on my application till date of your reply.
2. Names, designations and office addresses of the officials with whom my application was lying during this period and date-wise period with each official and action taken by him/her.
3. Please give evidence of receipt and dispatch of my application in the offices of each of these officials.
4. Please inform me, according to your rules or citizens charter or any other order, number of days in which such a matter should have been dealt with and resolved. Please also provide a copy of these rules.
5. As the officials have not adhered to the time limit mentioned in rules and are guilty of violating these rules please give a copy of their conduct rules and details of action taken by the RPO against erring officials.
6. In case no action has been initiated for dereliction of duties against erring officials, the reasons be made known to me.
7. Please inform me name of the police station/dept to whom the application was referred for police verification with outward number, date of dispatch and date when reply was received by you. Photocopy of letter addressed to the police for verification and proof of mailing be submitted to me.
8. Please let me know when I am likely to receive my passport.
9. Please inform me days taken by your office in issuing/renewing passports in the last 25 applications excluding days required for police verification.
10. Please inform me number of complaints for delay in issuing/renewing passports was received against your office in last one year or last financial year.
Please inform me name of the police station/dept to which application was referred for police verification with outward number, date of dispatch and date when reply was received by you. Photocopy of letter addressed to police for verification and proof of mailing be submitted to me.
Find the application fee for the request attached with this application. If you feel that above requested information does not pertain to your department then please follow the provisions of Section 6(3) of the RTI Act, 2005/Also as per the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 please provide the details (Name and Designation) of the First Appellate Authority w.r.t to your department with the reply to the above request., where I may if required file my first appeal.
I do hereby declare that I am a citizen of India. Kindly provide me with the information at the address/email id mentioned with the application. I request you to ensure that the information is provided before the expiry of the 30-day period after you have received the application.
(Name of applicant)
Address of Applicant, Other Contact Details
(The above sample has been taken from www.rtination.com which has been proactive in helping citizen file RTI applications. http://www.rtination.com/rti-applications/18-passport/3829-delay-in-passport-issue)
(Vinita Deshmukh is the consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)
There is no provision in the RTI Act which restrains the citizen’s right to use it if another route to access information has been offered, ruled the CIC. This is the 34th in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application
The Central Information Commission (CIC) while issuing a show-cause notice to the Public Information Officer (PIO) for not providing information within 30 days, said, that it is a citizen’s right to use the most convenient and efficacious means available to him. While giving this important judgement, Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner said if the complainant has more than one way of seeking remedy he has the freedom to opt for the way which is more convenient for him.
“The existence of another method of accessing information cannot be a justification to deny the citizen his freedom to exercise his fundamental right codified under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. If Parliament wanted to restrict this right, it would have been stated expressly in the Act. Nobody else has the right to constrain or limit the rights of the Sovereign Citizen,” the CIC said in its order issued on 14 July 2009.
Delhi resident Dharmender Kumar Garg, on 28 May 2009, sought information from the Registrar of Companies (RoC) about Bloom Financial Services. He sought information through following queries...
1. Who are the directors of this company? Please provide their names, addresses, dates of appointment and copies of consent filed at RoC.
2. After incorporation of above company, how many times directors were changed? Please provide the details of documents files and copies of Form 32 filed at ROC.
3. Please provide the copies of Annual Returns filed at RoC since incorporation to 1998.
4. On what ground prosecution has been filed please provide the details of prosecution and persons included for prosecution. Please provide the copies of Order Sheets and related documents.
5. On what ground the name of Dharmender Kumar Garg has been included for prosecution?
6. Please provide the copies of Form no.5 and other documents filed for increase of capital?
7. How much fee was paid for increase of capital of the above company? Please provide the details of payment of fee at RoC.
8. Please provide the copies of Statutory Report and SLP filed at RoC.
There was no mention of any replies either from the PIO or the First Appellate Authority (FAA). Mr Garg then filed his second appeal before the Commission.
During a hearing on 1 July 2009, the PIO stated that the information is available under Section 610 of the Companies Act on payment of the prescribed fee. The PIO also relied on the department circular of the ministry of company affairs dated 24 January 2006, a decision of the Commission CIC/MA/A/2006/00016 dated 29 March 2006 and CIC/AT/A/2007/00112 dated 12 April 2007 (particularly paras 8, 12 and 13).
Mr Garg stated that, “...their (RoC) website was inspected on 6 May 2009 on payment of Rs50 but no information was available. Thereafter after getting the reply under RTI, I went to the Manesar office (Gurgaon) and inspected the file. It was mentioned in the file that past records had been weeded out. Only three four documents were available. I took the copies on payment of more than Rs1,200 even then the information could not be collected from the record. The files are totally incomplete.”
Mr Garg's contention was that prosecution has been launched against him in spite of the fact that the records are not up-to-date.
The PIO contented that since they offered inspection under Section 610 of the Companies Act on payment of the prescribed fee, they need not give information under the RTI Act.
The Commission then reserved its decision.
During another hearing on 14 July 2009, the PIO submitted his arguments for denying the information. He said, once the information is available in the public domain accessible to the citizens, the information is automatically excluded from purview of the RTI Act as held by Information Commissioner AN Tiwari in the case of CIC/AT/A/2007/00112.
“Section 610 of the Companies Act, 1956, provides that any person may inspect any document kept by ROC and obtain copy of any document from the ROC concerned on payment of prescribed fee. Therefore, the complainant need not seek information under RTI Act. This was held by Information Commissioner MM Ansari in the case of CIC/MA/A/2006/0016,” the PIO stated.
The Commission, while interpreting Section 2(j) of the RTI Act had said that “…unless an information is exclusively held and controlled by a public authority that information cannot be said to be an information accessible under the RTI Act. Inferentially it would mean that once a certain information is placed in the public domain accessible to the citizens either freely or on payment of a pre-determined price that information cannot be said to be ‘held’ or ‘under the control of the public authority’ and thus would cease to be an information accessible under the RTI Act…”
Mr Gandhi said he begged to differ from this decision. He said, even if the information is in public domain, an applicant can still ask a public authority to grant him the information if it is held by it. Even if some information is available at various places, it is the citizen'’s choice from where he wishes to access it.
“The Commission would like to clarify that Section 2 of the RTI Act is the definitional provision and therefore Section 2(j) is not an exemption clause under RTI Act. It merely defines the ‘right to information’. So the exemption from disclosing the information cannot be sought under Section 2(j),” Mr Gandhi said.
The Commission noted that the information asked for is very basic information and records related to this particular information are missing. “This information is very important for the complainant as he is facing a threat of arrest and needs the information to prove his innocence. Not granting such information clearly leads to violation of the fundamental right of the complainant as provided under Article 21 of the Constitution,” it observed.
The PIO's second argument was the information should be sought only under Section 610 of the Companies Act. In his order (CIC/MA/A/2006/0016) Commissioner Ansari while upholding FAA’s order stated that “There is already a provision for seeking information under Section 610 of The Companies Act, 1956. The complainant may accordingly approach the RoC as advised by the Appellate Authority to obtain the relevant information.”
Mr Gandhi said the PIO have not made any claim for exemption under the RTI Act to deny the information. “If a Public Authority has a procedure of disclosing certain information which can also be accessed by a citizen using the Right to Information Act, it is the citizen’s prerogative to decide which route he wishes to take,” the CIC said.
“It appears to the Commission that information is being denied to the complainant without any valid grounds and this delay is causing mental agony to the complainant who is living under the constant fear of arrest,” Mr Gandhi noted.
While allowing the appeal, he then directed the PIO to provide complete information before 25 July 2009.
The Commission also held the PIO responsible for not supplying the complete, required information within 30 days as required under sub-section (1) of Section 7 of the RTI Act. The CIC then issued a show-cause notice to the PIO.
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Decision No. CIC/SG/C/2009/000702/4128
Complaint No. CIC/SG/C/2009/000702
Complainant : Dharmender Kumar Garg,
New Delhi - 110003
Respondent : Raj Kumar Sah
Registrar of Companies & CAPIO
NCT Delhi and Haryana,
4th Floor, IFCI Tower,
Nehru Place, New Delhi - 110003
As suggested yesterday, the Nifty tried to bounce back from the 5955 area. If the benchmark heads higher, it may hit 6,000. However, the trend remains down for now
The market closed lower for the fourth day in succession on weak global cues and selling pressure heavyweights. As suggested yesterday, the Nifty tried to bounce back from the 5955 area. If the benchmark heads higher, it may hit 6,000. However, the trend remains down for now. The National Stock Exchange (NSE) saw a volume of 65.72 crore shares and advance-decline ratio of 440:1076.
The Indian market opened weak tracking subdued global cues. Markets in Asia were in the red in morning trade on a dip in US factory orders and fresh concerns from Europe. US markets closed around 1% lower as ratings agencies cut ratings for Chevron and Wal-Mart Stores and lower-than-expected macro-economic indicators.
Back home, the Nifty opened 39 points lower at 5,948 and the Sensex resumed trade at 19,666, down 85 points from its previous close. Selling in realty and metal stocks kept the market lower in early trade.
Across-the-board selling in late morning trade pushed the Nifty to its lows in noon trade with the index falling to 5,947. A mixed opening of the key European indices due to political uncertainty in Spain and Italy also weighed on domestic sentiments. The Sensex fell to its low in the post-noon session with the benchmark at 19,632.
The benchmarks closed off the lows but were down for the fourth day in a row. The Nifty closed 30 points (0.51%) lower at 5,957 and the Sensex declined 91 points (0.46%) to end the session at 19,660.
The broader indices continued to underperform the Sensex. The BSE Mid-cap index decline 0.66% and the BSE Small-cap index dropped 1.01%.
With the exception of the BSE Healthcare index (up 0.86%), all others settled lower. The top losers were BSE Consumer Durables (down 1.57%); BSE Fast Moving Consumer Goods (down 1.03%); BSE Power (down 0.75%); BSE Metal (down 0.74%) and BSE Oil & Gas (down 0.65%).
Eleven of the 30 stocks on the Sensex closed in the positive. The chief gainers were Sun Pharmaceutical Industries (up 4.06%); GAIL India (up 1.64%); Bajaj Auto (up 1.49%); Cipla (up 1.18%) and State Bank of India (up 0.57%). The main losers were BHEL (down 3.19%); Bharti Airtel (down 1.93%); Sterlite Industries (down 1.73%); Tata Motors (down 1.64%) and ITC (down 1.58%).
The top two A Group gainers on the BSE were—Berger Paints (up 4.23%) and Sun Pharma (up 4.06%).
The top two A Group losers on the BSE were—Jubilant Foodworks (down 8.24%) and Opto Circuits (down 6.77%).
The top two B Group gainers on the BSE were—La Opal RG (up 20%) and Jayaswal Neco Industries (up 19.64%).
The top two B Group losers on the BSE were—Camphor & Allied Products (down 15.42%) and Mahavir Impex (down 14.71%).
Out of the 50 stocks listed on the Nifty, 22 stocks settled in the positive. The major gainers were Sun Pharma (up 3.70%); Ambuja Cement (up 3.05%); ACC (up 2%); UltraTech Cement Company (up 1.56%) and GAIL (up 1.52%).
Markets in Asia, with the exception of the Shanghai Composite, settled lower on fresh concerns from Europe. The Spanish premier Mariano Rajoy faces corruption charges and uncertainty of the outcome of the elections in Italy weighed on investors.
The Hang Seng tumbled 2.27%; the Jakarta Composite fell 0.25%; the KLSE Composite shed 0.07%; the Nikkei 225 tanked 1.90%; the Straits Times declined 0.75%; the Seoul Composite dropped 0.77% and the Taiwan Weighted lost 0.46%. Bucking the trend, the Shanghai Composite rose 0.20%.
At the time of writing, the key European indices recovered from their early hiccups and were in the green and the US stock futures were in the positive.
Back home, foreign institutional investors were net buyer of equities amounting to Rs856.94 crore on Monday while domestic institutional investors were net sellers of stocks totalling Rs592.32 crore.
Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) today cleared global liquor giant Diageo Plc move to launch an open offer to acquire 26% stake from public shareholders of United Sprits. As part of the deal for purchase of 53.4% stake in the Vijay Mallya-led UB group firm, Diageo has made a Rs5,441-crore open offer for purchase of 26% stake in the company from non-promoter shareholders. United Spirits advanced 1.82% to close at Rs1,892 on the NSE.
Mirc Electronics, owner of the consumer durable and electronics brand Onida, is planning to set up a greenfield manufacturing facility in Maharashtra to manufacture air conditioners at an investment of around Rs400 crore. The proposed facility will be the fourth facility for the company in India. The stock declined 2.05% to close at Rs9.55 on the NSE.
Exide Industries has signed a new agreement with Japan’s Shin-Kobe Electric Machinery Company to implement new manufacturing processes for automotive batteries. Under the Technical Licence and Assistance Agreement, Shin-Kobe will provide “extensive technical support” for manufacturing of automotive batteries at Exide’s plants across the country. The stock gained 0.74% to close at Rs122.40 on the NSE.