Citizens' Issues
Pune Passport Office threatens passport holders, with a notice to explain ‘adverse’ police verification!
Over the past fortnight, hundreds of passport applicants from Pune have received show cause notices from the Regional Passport Office (RPO) asking them to re-do their police verification. While many of them have already undergone that process, RPO insists it does not show in the police records sent to it. What is more shocking is the threatening language used in these notices.
 
One of them is a young woman, Rucha Bhandare, who had got her passport in 2012. She says she had spent three hours in the police station for this verification. Noted activist Sheila Christian and her husband too stated that they had fulfilled the police verification, also in 2012, and they too have received this letter. “How is it possible to stand in the line again; my husband would be unable to go through his, due to his health.”
 
The generic letter (show cause notice) signed by Pune’s Regional Passport Officer, sent to many passport applicants, without any public awareness campaign, had sent shock waves, reads:
 
“This is with reference to a receipt of an adverse police verification report corresponding to your application of Passport issue no xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.”
 
You are therefore called upon to provide a suitable explanation and submit a fresh application with correct details. Please note that you are required to publish a proper explanation regarding circumstances under which you had suppressed the material information in the passport application and obtained the above said passport
 
Also state why action should not be taken to impound the Passport no xxxxxx of the Passports Act 1967 and section 12 (1) (b) of the Passports Act 1967 should not be initiated against you.”
 
Generally, post-police verification is done for those who have applied under 'Tatkal' scheme where the applicant gets the passport within a week. However, the letter from RPO was sent even to those who had applied under the normal procedure. Nervous applicants have been making a beeline to the Passport Office, where they received rude treatment and no answers. 
 
When yours truly, in the capacity of Convener of the Pune Passport Grievance Forum, took it up with Atul Gotsurve, RPO, Pune, stating how the Passport Office could take people unawares and what was the explanation for sending it to applicants who have already undergone police verification. He insisted, “it (the police verification) does not show in the (RPO) records though.” So, who bungled then? The police?
 
Thereafter, the RPO issued a press release stating: “A special drive has been undertaken by the Regional Passport Office, Pune to send show cause notices to passport holders whose police verification has been received as ‘not recommended’ (Adverse). The adverse police recommendation could be for several reasons like applicant was not available for police inquiry, passport applicant gave false information, court case pending, etc.” 
 
“Adverse police report in the computer system can lead to a passport holder facing problems at some inopportune moment, e.g. if the passport holder loses the passport in a foreign country, then the Indian embassy there cannot issue him a new passport easily, because his police report in the computer system is adverse. Hence, it is better to have the papers cleared. An additional counter at the inquiry window to help the people, who have received the show cause notice has been opened at Senapati Road Passport Office, Pune.”
 
A subsequent press release from the RPO stated “After taking passport holder's response and after checking the details in the computer system, the police inquiry is reinitiated and some cases where blatant suppression of information is detected then strict action like imposition of financial penalty or cancellation of passport or lodging of FIR, or all the three actions may be taken.”
 
RTI activist Qaneez Sukhrani is not convinced with the ‘special drive’ theory.“By labelling this a ‘special drive’, the RPO is trying to divert attention from their knee-jerk reaction on discovery of irregularity in their own system, some of it, more than five years ago. If this verification was not done, then who is at default? The RPO, Police or the Passport holder? How dare RPO issue show cause notices at random to passport holders for their own and Police Department’s fault? I know several people, some of them senior citizens, who have gone into complete panic mode at being accused of ‘suppressing’ information by RPO without citing any specific reason. If I had been one of the recipients, I would have sent the RPO a legal notice next morning.”
 
When contacted, Gotsurve reiterates that, they are acting upon only those names whose police verification has not been done and says he has reviewed the tone of the show cause notice by making it more polite. “Now we are sending letters, asking them first to email their reply to our letter or then send a letter explaining their stand on the police verification. If required we will call them to the office. However, for those who have indeed suppressed information, they would not be spared,” the RPO says.
 
The fact remains, there has been no transparency regarding this issue. The Pune Passport Grievance Forum (PPGF) has requested the RPO to provide data on how many such show cause notices have been sent and put up details of this ‘special drive’ on their website, which is so interactive now.
 
 

(Vinita Deshmukh is 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”.)

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COMMENTS

neha

5 months ago

Hi Vinita,

This is in reference to the notice recieved by the Regional Passport Office(RPO),Ranchi as we are based out of Jamshedpur(Jharkhand) stating "adverse" police verification report corresponding to the application for passport issued by my husband,dated 30/05/2011.

Could you please guide me through the next steps to get out of this problem as early as possible.It would be really appreciated and helpful as well.

Thanks in advance..

TIHARwale

9 months ago

Police verification for passport is used by police as tool for extortion. already for Govt and Public sector passport applicants passport is issued even without police verification and this has irked the corrupt police person and this the reason they file adverse report commonsense tells why policemen need to meet the applicant if neighbours confirm as witness for applicant. Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan should seek info the policemen who have given adverse reports so that with data evidence rouge policeman can be identified. today public treats police as corrupt. otherday when 2 police officials were killed in Mathura public didnot come in support for police because public is helpless against criminal, politician, policeman combine. in Delhi Arvind Kejriwal won 67/70 without showing anything in Governance because one good thing he did was he cornered corrupt elements in police and aam aadmi ( common man) felt happy to see his humiliator policeman is taken to task by Arvind Kejriwal.

Sanjay Saxena

9 months ago

Another example of the high-handedness of our inefficient & incompetent 'sarkari babudom' who, even 70 years after independence, still feel they are the raja's and rest of us are still the praja, not realizing that it's our taxes that is paying their salary.

Srinivas Sreeram

9 months ago

Internal communication failures between passport & police should NOT result in passport cancellation but it should be a reason for penalizing the officials who are involved in that delay. Officials often take pretext of work load or no facilities, in such cases, the police (which is often a target) should engage other security agencies to do this service on their behalf & complete the process.

Sudhakar Ojha

9 months ago

Government departments when writing to citizens should give full details and reasoning behind the letters / notices.

Shirish Sadanand Shanbhag

9 months ago

This Police verification of Passport holders, several years after issuing the Passport is wrong. When, Passport Office sends Police verification of applicant, it gives 90 days time to Police, and even if Police Verification is not obtained after 90 days period, Possport is issued.
From time to time, Passport office conducts "Passport Adalat" to redress the grievances of passport holders. If passport office don't take Passport Adalat once a month, then affected people can ask Regional Passport Officer, Pune to Conduct it, for the affected people.
Also, then should mention exact deficiencies in the police report, and accordingly, affected people can go to concerned police station to get them Police Verification of their Passport.
Even at all Police Stations in Maharaashtra, a special Police Constable deputed for Police Verification of Passport applicants. Therefore, it will not be much porblem to redress such difficulties.
To redress any difficulties faced by citizens at Police Station, every Saturday, between 9am and 10am, ACP from different area comes to each Police Station to redress your difficulties. If you have any deficiencies in Police Verification of your Passport, you can take up your complaint to such ACP on Saturday.

Anand Vaidya

9 months ago

Another department that is infamous for send threatening letters even for routine matters - Income Tax Dept. These Lords are still in the British Era ruling over us , poor brown people.

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