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  • Pune Passport Seva Kendra improves process of applications and facilities: A Moneylife Impact

    The press statement issued by the ministry of external affairs claims that passport issuance in Pune has increased by 64%, with a corresponding increase of 11% in the number of applications processed and police verification clearance up by 133% 

     

    A little over a month after Chief Passport Officer Muktesh Pardeshi and a top official from Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) addressed a press conference in Pune and assured improvement in passport services of the Pune Regional Passport office, beleaguered with inefficiency and corruption, some positive steps towards citizen convenience have been implemented.

     
    As per a press statement issued by the ministry of external affairs (MEA), increase in online appointments, quicker disposal in police verification clearance; facilities for citizens like provision of drinking water, hassle-free parking and separate queue for senior citizens and minors; enhanced security, and putting up of public boards to warn against passport agents have become a reality. Moneylife which had spearheaded a sustained campaign since March along with activists had made these relevant demands.
     
    According to Pardeshi, “The number of appointments at Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) in Mundhwa has been increased to 1,100 on a daily basis, a rise of 16%. At the same time, to ease the problem of unavailability of appointment slots online, the appointment release cycle has been increased from one week to two weeks which has resulted in an additional availability of 6,000 appointments for the people.”
     
    Pardeshi further states that, “Statistics indicate that passport issuance in Pune has increased by 64%, with a corresponding increase of 11% in the number of applications processed. On the other hand, the police department has also been able to clear the pendency of passport applications that witnessed a 133% increase. We are still trying to manage the problem of absenteeism, which has increased from 25% to 30%. Would request applicants to diligently follow the processes while applying for a passport and not let their appointment go waste.” 
     
    Inordinate delays in police verification were one of the major hurdles in applicants receiving their passports. According to Assistant Regional Passport officer Ms Arora, “We have deployed two of our personnel in the police department in order to help it to dispose off police verification cases quickly. We found that the number of pendency was exaggerated. With our joint effort, there are now less than 5,000 pending cases of police verification.” 
     
    Despite these claims by the Regional Passport Office, Moneylife has received complaints of non-issuance of passport despite clearance of police verification. Two cases which have been reported with Moneylife are: 
     
    1. Name - CH Joshi
    Passport File No. is PN1070400995712; Police Verification Report sent to Passport office from Police Commissioner Office on 31-08-2012 Acknowledgement no. - 72733.
     
    Passport Seva Kendra - Status still shows as “Passport application is under review at Regional Passport Office.” 
     

    2. Swati Bhagat: 
    Passport File no PN1060810374613. Police verification report sent on April 17. Passport yet to be issued.
     
    The press statement states the following enhanced conveniences and facilities have been made available to the passport applicants at Passport Seva Kendra, Mundhwa:
    1,100 appointments available on a daily basis
    Police verification clearance increased by 133%
    Passport issuance increased by 64% 
    Elongated appointment cycle made—additional 6,000 appointments available to the people
    Pre-A counter and a government official at pre-verification area to assist applicants regarding documentation 
    Deployment of a government officer in pre-verification area to resolve applicant queries regarding documentation 
    Additional security guard deputed to manage parking outside the PSK building
    Enquiry desk established outside the PSK at the security entrance point to help applicants with the general queries regarding passport services 
    Drinking water facility has been extended near the security gate of PSK premises 
    Separate queues for walk-in applicants, senior citizens, minors, etc. with proper signage being installed in pre-service area to avoid confusion
    Special multi-lingual signage installed at the PSK cautioning applicants to avoid dealing with touts and agents
    To speed-up the passport services, the Pune City Police has also started using electronic Police Verification (PV) transfer model which has resulted in real-time dispatch of PVs to RPOs.
     
    As per the press statement, “As part of MEA’s e-Governance initiatives, the Passport Seva Project (PSP) has transformed the passport issuance system across India through an increased network of 77 PSKs. The ministry is improving governance in Passport Offices by focusing on citizen-centricity, service orientation and transparency.”
     

    Readers are welcome to write to [email protected] in case of complaints regarding passport issuance at the Pune Regional Passport office, Senapati Bapat Road of the MEA and the Passport Seva Kendra, Mundhwa of Tata Consultancy Services.

     

    You may also want to read..

     
    (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”.)
     

     

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    User

    COMMENTS

    Sucheta Dalal

    5 years ago

    Big News: Regional Passport Officers -
    Mumbai & Thane, will answer your queries

    Painless Passports: No Agents Needed!

    Mr Tanmoy Chakrabarty, VP & Head of the Global Govt Industry Group at Tata Consultancy Services, will explain how passport issuance has been transformed, what you can expect in terms of service, speed and efficiency; and the next phase of the automation process which will track Indian workers abroad.

    He will also talk about the e-migrate system that has been launched by the Govt to protect the interests of Indians going abroad for work.

    Dr Swati Kulkarni, Regional Passport Officer - Mumbai.
    IFS and MBBS, she worked as Consul General of India in South Africa before becoming Mumbai's RPO

    Mr TD Sharma, Regional Passport Officer - Thane.

    Come and have your queries answered on these and many other benefits of the e-migrate process and automation of passports.







    December
    12
    Friday

    Registration: 6pm

    Session Time:
    6:30pm – 8:30pm

    Venue:
    Indian Merchants
    Chamber, Walchand
    Hirachand hall (4th floor),
    IMC Marg, Churchgate,
    Mumbai - 400 020.


    ADMISSION FREE
    Registration is Mandatory!
    RIGHT OF ADMISSION RESERVED

    RSVP:
    Jewel / Libertina at
    022-49205000 or email us
    at [email protected]

    amol adsul

    6 years ago

    Name - Amol Adsul
    Passport File No. is PN1060898330813; Police Verification Report sent to Passport office from Police Commissioner Office on 15-03-2013

    Passport Seva Kendra - Status still shows as “Passport application is under review at Regional Passport Office.”

    Vinay Joshi

    6 years ago

    Hello Ms. Vinita,

    How are you?

    In the first place 'Congratulations', solely your untiring efforts, keep it up to improve to 100%. Yes, bang. Do not bother on TCS.

    FYI, this has resulted [yr campaign] in all India increase in slots allotted & options.

    I was flabbergasted to know that a 'TEN MONTH' old girl could not 'GET POLICE VERIFICATION', on time.
    [well understood in case of surrogacy or adoption et al but from a well established maharashtrian fmly.]

    Well do not leave aside the TCS outsourcing data processing. Look out for the security aspects are not compromised.

    Two Indian payment processing firms have admitted 'system breached', in $45mn ATM heist.

    Of course it was an external attack, ElectraCard Services, Pune & EnStage B'lore.

    Ms.Sucheta your efforts also helped, coordinating the meeting.

    Regards,

    The draconian LBT: Local Body Tax explained

    LBT is a draconian Act, especially with key words like ‘goods’, ‘dealer’, ‘business’ loosely defined in the legislation, giving enough scope for the administrators to stretch their imagination to fanciful limits to the common man’s harassment and dismay

     
    LBT, local body tax, draconian Act, common man, transport of goods, goods, dealer, business, Octroi, Cess, LPT, Local Panchayat TaxWith the wedding season round the corner, imagine you are going in your car from Navi Mumbai to Mumbai to attend a marriage with your wife who is wearing gold ornaments and a silk saree; please do not be surprised if a government officer stops you and demands LBT on the car, saree and gold ornaments. Your luck may run out further, if he invokes the provision saying that you have failed to take a registration under LBT (Local Body Tax Act). He may demand, in the name of penalty, a compounding fee, that may exceed the cost of the ornaments or the car or the saree itself. You may, along with your wife, be convicted for the offences you may have deemed to have committed under LBT.
     
    Take another situation. Your dabbawala gets your tiffin box daily to your office in Fort area from your house in Thane. As the financial year comes to an end, one fine day, after December, a LBT officer lands in your office instead of the dabbawala with a warrant to arrest you for having brought into the city limits the goods exceeding the prescribed turnover limits. 
     
    These may look too fictitious and simplistic or some may call these situations “beyond the wildest stretch of one’s imagination”. Well, going by the experience of dealing with the department, you might have come across officers trying to levy tax on flats situated in Navi Mumbai, purchased from a builder in Mumbai, arguing that the flat was brought into the city limits from Mumbai where the builder’s office was situated. With this kind of background, the LBT looks like a draconian Act, especially with key words like ‘goods’, ‘dealer’, ‘business’ loosely defined in the legislation, giving enough scope for the administrators to stretch their imagination to fanciful limits to the common man’s harassment and dismay. 
     
    LBT stands for Local Body Tax, which has been introduced in most of the municipalities and corporations in Maharashtra,  in lieu of Octroi or Cess. It is a levy under entry 52 in the State list of Schedule VII of the Constitution of India, on the entry of goods into a city limits for the purpose of consumption, use or sale therein. Thus, the recent agitations against LBT, a levy, which is constitutionally valid, have given rise to questions as to the root cause of the agitations. 
     
    Octroi is a levy which was prevalent in Roman times. It was extensively used as a tax tool in Europe till World War II. Now, it is almost extinct except in Ethiopia and Maharashstra (a true reflection of comparable development of the economy or the situations of drought). Other states in India have done away with this levy and they share a portion of the Value Added Tax (VAT) or Sales Tax (ST) with the local bodies.
     
    Municipalities, with a share from the state government and other tax collection methods like property tax, entertainment tax, etc, can run the administration with a decent budget.  A power to use (more likely abuse), does not necessarily warrant a situation to use. However, the greed to have extravagant budgets, in the name of development (personal development of bureaucrats and ministers as actual development remains a mirage), is the driver that makes the local bodies and the state government stick to their guns in implementing the LBT despite protests.
     
    Being the representatives of the people, our corporators, MPs and MLAs have forgotten that they have a duty to echo public opinion and ensure that government is run as per the wishes of the public. At the time of introduction of VAT in 2005 the Government of Maharashtra had promised that Octroi would be removed and there will not be any additional tax burden on citizens but now they have introduced  the LBT. Thus, LBT is not a good system of tax collection suited for the 21st century, and when there are many other better options available with the government.
     
    LBT, local body tax, draconian Act, common man, transport of goods, goods, dealer, business, Octroi, Cess, LPT, Local Panchayat TaxAnother reason which goes against LBT is the exorbitant compounding fees. The Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporations Act, 1949,  the Act that gives right to levy LBT, as such does not have a penalty-limit prescribed for any violations relating to LBT, though there is an elaborate Annexure prescribing the various penalties. That shows that penalty cannot be levied legally.

    However, the Rule 48  framed under this Act, quantifies the penalty that can be levied in different cases. Thus, the said Rule is ultra vires the Act. 
     
    Further, the compounding fees, is payable, only if the dealer is convicted. However, the administration is collecting the compounding fee as tax at the time of assessment itself making it a dubious source of revenue for the Government. 
     
    Another point against LBT is the cascading effect of teh Tax. Unlike excise or service tax or VAT, there is no concept of set-off or input credit. In other words, every time the goods cross the city limits they will be liable for LBT and levy of LBT may exceed the value of goods itself. A simple reading of the Act would necessarily warrant a LBT when goods are imported from one city to another (as the goods are purchased from another registered dealer under the Act), the corporations interpret that the LBT is leviable in such cases as each city corporation is a different entity despite the fact that the legislation empowering the levy is same. This shows that legislators have not applied their mind while framing the law; else they have done so with full knowledge that it will fill the Governments and their own coffers through corruption.
     
    Another reason that frightens the businessmen is the LPT or Local Panchayat Tax.  Like the areas near Bhiwandi or Khopoli, which adjoin Mumbai, but are outside the city limits and hence octroi-free zones, are now allowed to levy a similar tax on the entry of goods into the village limits. Thus, now this may be looked as a gold mine for extracting LPT by the Panchayats as many businesses have set their shop in view of enjoying the tax-benefits. In absence of such benefit, which may be a reality, if LPT is introduced, these panchayats may not have any attraction to retain the existing business, leave alone attracting the business. Many of the businessmen have started thinking of shifting to neighbouring states, especially Gujarat.
     
    Another reason against LBT is that there is no time-limit that is specified for completing the assessment of the firms. In such situations, the dealers may be kept in suspense as to their liability to maintain books and records. Further, the appeal process is against the principles of natural justice for the simple reason that in case you decide against the order of the LBT officer or commissioner, you are required to deposit the entire tax demanded before filing the appeal. Draconian and unconstitutional, I would think, isn’t it?
     
    LBT, local body tax, draconian Act, common man, transport of goods, goods, dealer, business, Octroi, Cess, LPT, Local Panchayat TaxThe Act is not a comprehensive Act that is well worded or suited for taxation. With lot of alternative avenues open for collecting enough revenues for the corporations, the political class should respect the difficulties of the businessmen and common men, and help them to reach the sane voices (if there are any!) in the government. They should bring in the changes in legislation to repeal LBT and make suitable changes in VAT so that the local bodies do share  revenues the state government derives from VAT. This will ensure that the administration frees itself from the task of collection of addition tax and other related administrative work. This will also help the dealers of additional hassles of payment of tax, filing of return, surveys, raids, check posts, assessments, appeals etc. and also dealing with one more Government body prone to corruption. 
     
    (The author is a partner at Borkar & Shenoy, Chartered Accountants)
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    COMMENTS

    Dekho ji.com

    6 years ago

    If people of Maharashtra had the Right To Recall their representatives, such laws would not even be tabled in Parliament / Legislative Assemblies, forget about the Govt forcing it onto the people. We need Right to Recall, else people everywhere in India will spend the rest of their lives (as they have done for past 65 yrs) firefighting against such bad laws.

    KISHOR

    6 years ago

    Why didnt goverment recover losses of scam from corrupt politician instead of recovering LBT FROM Mumbai

    REPLY

    CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

    In Reply to KISHOR 6 years ago

    Dear Sir,

    This is for the public to decide whether they will keep the present Govt. in power and then equate the recovery process.

    jaideep shirali

    6 years ago

    The implementation of LBT should be modified to make it user friendly. If there is no LBT, local bodies would have to beg the State Govt for funds for every road and gutter in our cities, which is ridiculous. Traders oppose LBT because many are not used to declaring their income, leave alone paying taxes on it. Clubbing LBT with another levy makes no sense,for example,many businessmen maintain duplicate accounts for lower tax payments. And let us not blame netas and babus, we have introduced them to the practice of "setting".

    CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

    6 years ago

    Actually the Govt. has taken there election for granted, filing of a caveat in SC is must. But I reside in NCR if at any time any help needed most welcome!

    Arun Mehta

    6 years ago

    Traders are in for long haul with bad timings.'Akhaya Triya' broke the momentum of strike by the reopening of the shops, and now media both at the centre and state too busy with a yet another major 'national crisis','Match Fixing' at IPL6. Meantime,Malls and other big retailers are assured of a jackpot time and praying that the LBT stalemate continues further.

    REPLY

    CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

    In Reply to Arun Mehta 6 years ago

    Actually, traders have a problems also, they defer eyesores for future action and not immediate action, whether Akshaya Triti or any other thing the business will down shutters, so it will help everybody and bring administration to where it belongs.

    CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

    6 years ago

    HOW HAS THE PRESIDENT SIGNED THE ACT, INSPITE OF SO MANY INBUILT PROBLEMS. FRANKLY CONGRESS GOVT. IS LIKE THAT WHETHER IN CENTRE OR STATE

    CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

    6 years ago

    Feel Maharashtra has fallen towards Bad Times hence Mechanism is being devised to garner personal and official revenues by hook or crook.

    SuchindranathAiyerS

    6 years ago

    A typical post 1947 Indian Law, LBT is designed to harass, intimidate and extort money from hapless Indians for the ruling scum:

    Arun Mehta

    6 years ago

    The trading community has raised scarecrow courtesy fancy interpretation by some CA's.Whya not they file a PIL in court and get the act struck down.Why the MLA's who voted the bill ever bothered to dissect the Bill word by word.Why the Malls who are doing a Roaring business in Mumbai thanks to the traders strike ever raised this scare as their stakes are much higher than the traders,investment wise.

    REPLY

    CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

    In Reply to Arun Mehta 6 years ago

    A joint effort has to be made for getting the law struck off, an application in SUPREME COURT, will bring black and white to the doorsteps.

    Shama Zaidi

    6 years ago

    a neta-babu tax amounting to 25% of their stated annual income should be put in place instead. only if netas and babus can prove to the lokpal that in the previous financial year they have not taken bribes or other material benefits will this amount be returned. otherwise they will have to forgo the 25% plus 80% of their ill-gotten gains.

    pankaj parekh

    6 years ago

    Income Tax & Excise deptt are coming under President, Highest post in India. Even President have no right to seize PPF, but such Power is given to these babus in LBT !
    As per C.M. :
    Increasing VAT is going to extra burden on small villages/ towns etc. When Congress increased VAT from 4% to 5% then? Have they thought of same at that time ? Now what is harm today? Collection of VAT from said area is hardly 10% to 15%. Not going to make much difference to them.
    LBT applicable to Big Cities only. So it is not going to effect Villages/ Towns. All villages / small town, have to depend upon big cities. They have to buy most of the requirements from big cities only. Thus indirectly they are paying LBT.

    CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

    6 years ago

    Though this is not the Forum for such things but a request to MLF team regarding an article on-WHISTLE BLOWERS

    Desai Bhavesh

    6 years ago

    At lest somebody took pain to dissect the suspense subject, discussed by everybody!
    Keeping pro and cons of LBT aside, basic and fundamental question- Is Municipal Corporation is geared up to implement dynamic nature taxation at such micro level? BMC record is not so good in handling static tax like property tax, water bill and octroi? Law passed without adequate implementation machinery and understanding will be breeding ground for corruption and harassment to traders, whose cost, ultimately will be borne by us.
    Sad part about entire episode is poor communication from Government.

    REPLY

    Poornima mepani

    In Reply to Desai Bhavesh 6 years ago

    D MCGM is Asia's largest local body, I am told. By personal experience, can vouch for the fact that it is the world's most corrupt one and is a darling of I

    Poornima mepani

    In Reply to Poornima mepani 6 years ago

    sorry, posted an incomplete reply above by mistake.... India's most corrupting industry i.e. telecom. Seen MCGM's new property tax system esp for the calculation of tax on telecom towers.If the revenue issue was truly the reason behind LBT, why didnt it levy a huge tax increase on towers. Aha, the DoT and the GoI love telecom operators, MCGM joined the great Indian telecom party instead of taking them on to make extra hay.

    CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

    In Reply to Desai Bhavesh 6 years ago

    But, what will the citizens do? Traders can't protest, public out of bounds. Govt./Executive Machinery supporting the Govt. of the day, Then what to do? Fail to understand.

    jaykayess

    6 years ago

    I have heard first hand from a known person who was present in multiple meetings with CM Prithviraj Chauhan, that the traders body is not only being aggressively targeted and harassed, but their voice is also being muzzled - all prominent newspapers in Mumbai have been coerced by the govt NOT to print anything from the traders. Newspapers are not even being allowed to accept paid advertisements from trade associations, stating their point of view. Have you seen a single ad from the trade associations? So it is clear that there is tremendous pressure from the govt to ensure that LBT gets implemented, any way or anyhow.

    What this article does not highlight sufficiently is that the focus of the traders agitation is NOT against levy of LBT itself - it is purely against the MODE of collection of LBT. All they want is that the additional tax amount should be collected as a surcharge on VAT, without having to file separate returns or be subject to harassment by yet another authority.

    The very fact that the govt is not agreeing to such a rational demand proves that the govt has vested interests which are far more and deeper than the mere revenue.

    After all, octroi provided so much unauthorized income to the octroi officers, so this is sought to be replaced by this underhanded route.

    REPLY

    Poornima mepani

    In Reply to jaykayess 6 years ago

    India's rulers are wolves in sheep clothing and the protesters are sheep in wolves clothing !!!! A muzzled media can do nothing to reveal the true identities.

    CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

    6 years ago

    Actually all the Acts of Centre and States have one thing in common...what is that?

    REPLY

    Arun Mehta

    In Reply to CA PRADEEP AGARWAL 6 years ago

    Both the central and state acts provide enough loop hole in the law for interpretation by professional lawyers,CA's to the advantage of their Clients.As long as we have 'incompetent' law makers or Tax lawyers and tax consultants will never starve in this great country of ours.

    CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

    In Reply to Arun Mehta 6 years ago

    These loopholes are kept intentionally for the benefit of ruling elite but when exploited by all then they try to plug those loopholes, in the guise of social reforms and those are highlighted. Why do they have to make stringent LGT, can also issue a heavy penalty challan but they will not do it, because there cannot extricate the amount as demanded. Sorry to say this---but can't help it.

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