Passport applicant files complaint with Anti-Corruption Bureau

Harassed by the needless delays, red tapism and alleged corruption, a Pune-based business journalist filed complaint with the ACB

Roop Karnani, Pune-based senior journalist has lodged a complaint with Director General of Police (DGP), Anti-Corruption Bureau, alleging corruption in the online appointment system of the Passport Seva Kendra (PSK). He says the system ‘crashes’ continuously due to ‘touts’ who are probably doing mass bookings. He has also complained against harassment of applicants by the passport officials who keep sending citizens back for want of documents, many a time not required at all, as per the documents listed on the website and against the clumsy working system at the PSK, Mundhwa run by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).


As an acknowledgement, the ACB has replied thus: “We acknowledge receipt of your complaint dated 17/3/2013. The same has been forwarded to the office of CBI, ACB Mumbai  for necessary action on email id: [email protected] You are requested to follow up your complaint with the said authority.’’


In his complaint, lodged on 17th March, Karnani had appealed to Raj Khilnani, DGP, ACB, Mumbai to direct Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) which in public private partnership (PPP) with the passport division of the ministry of external affairs (MEA) to direct the TCS to eliminate this problem by rectifying the software.


Since the last one month, Karnani who has applied for renewal of his passport, states, “On 28th February when I submitted my documents, they said, in 10 days the police verification will be done. If in 10 days you don't get a call from the police, you personally go to the police station and inquire. On the 12th day I went to Pimpri police station, but they said they have received forms upto 26th February. Yesterday, on the 15th day they said they have just received one or two forms of the 28th, but have received quite a few of 1st, 2nd and 3rd March. So just wait, it should come in a day or two. If its urgent, contact Commissioner of Police (CP) office and enquire. When I enquired at the CP office, they said system shows it has left for Pimpri office. So waited for a day or two ...I am still waiting.’’ 

Karnani, in his written complaint to Khilnani writes: “I have faced so many problems, for the last one month, for just online ‘renewal’ of my passport, that too for the 3rd time.
A major problem is that the site crashes within less than half a minute, sometimes in less than 10 seconds, with the message that 650  appointments have been given for today. This is because of touts, obviously. But this can be eliminated by software and to streamline the chaotic system of operation prevailing at Counters A, B and C at PSK, Mundhwa.

He writes in his complaint: “I had to put one person on the job at 2.45pm, because the site says to seek an appointment at exactly 3pm, and the site closes within the next 2 minutes, and says 650 appointments given, when it takes at least 5 minutes to log into the appointment page. For three weeks my person logged in everyday to get the appointment, thus doing unproductive work. This is ridiculous. The site should be open 24 x 7 to seek appointments, and if there is a heavy rush, I should get the option to get the next available appointment, which maybe the next week, the next month or after three months (as a hypothetical case). Which means that I have to log into the site only once, and my appointment is done. I am sure that you understand this can be done by a simple change in the software programme.’’


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Karnani has also brought to the notice of the ACB, the harassment of citizens inside the PSK, Mundhwa. He writes: “When, I entered the PSK at the given time, there were about 200 people waiting in five different queues, which were very long, and people were shoving and pushing. I realized that they were not giving tokens, but they were returning people back for documents not brought. Some documents were not required at all, for which they were being sent back. After waiting for a couple of hours asking them to return again on a separate date is really frustrating. Imagine a guy from Kolhapur, who had not brought his residence proof—he had to go back to Kolhapur and seek a fresh appointment. Then they asked for a marriage certificate from a man, who was standing before me… This led to a huge argument, and delayed further the movement for the token. When people started shouting like in a fish market, this man was sent into the cabin of the officer concerned.


“I got through this, after waiting for an hour. I was then sent to the next room, which was designed to accommodate just 100 people but there were over 200 people and it was very stuffy and suffocating as the air conditioner was designed for just 100 people. There was no place to sit. There was a small cafeteria, which had run out of cold drinks, coffee, sandwiches… nothing was available. The water cooler was not working. The loos were in a bad shape because of the huge rush. If the first area had been used as a waiting area, 200 people could have been comfortably seated. After waiting for almost one-and-half hour here, I started feeling giddy. I complained to them and they made me sit in the manager’s cabin. My age is 58 and I was feeling unwell. But there were older people than me, senior citizens; I feel sorry for their plight. I was lucky enough to be sent to the manager’s cabin, which was in the next room. Looking at my plight, she tried to
 expedite my application. They sent my file inside and I was asked to go to a particular counter for fingerprinting and photographs. After this I thought the process was over. But no, there were totally three counters- A, B, C—I had only just finished A. There was a screen announcing token numbers and the counter to which the person had to go.

Nobody knew what the token number was because it was printed on some page in the file but they never informed us when giving the file. These token numbers were being displayed at random, not in a sequence. So a person who had come later could be called ahead.

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“When I finally reached the B and C counters, they just entered one line in the computer, and said now you can go to the next counter. When I was exiting—there was just one exit—I was sent back to another window, where one man was just scanning the barcode, only after which one could exit. You will agree that the entry of just one line at counters B and C, and the scanning of the barcode, could all have been done at one counter itself, by one single person. If 20 people at each counters of A, B and C had all been done at one counter, which is more practical, 60 people could have been cleared in five minutes in one counter instead of the current procedure which takes 20 people to be cleared after three hours.’’


Karnani submitted his suggestions to the ACB as follows:

“1)  Just 20 people should be called in each half an hour time slot, and there should be three people to check the documents outside the waiting area, so that this can easily be done in 15 to 20 minutes, after which they can be let in. And at no point in time, they should let in more than 150 people in the waiting area, even though the capacity is 200, so that it is less congested.

 2)  The person at the first counter itself should take fingerprints, which will take two minutes, and make the online entries into the computer what the B and C counters were doing, in two minutes and scan the barcode in just one minute. So if 60 people can be cleared in five minutes, imagine 1,000 people could be accommodated in one day, smoothly. But they are overcapacitated with 650 people a day, due to their disorganized ways of functioning.

“In Ahmedabad there are five PSKs, and the city has much less population than Pune. Here the process of passport renewal gets done in just 10 minutes. In Pune there should be atleast three PSKs. There should a separate PSK in Kolhapur so that applicants from Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara do not have to come to Pune.’’


To read all about Moneylife’s activism on Pune Passport Office issues, click here.

(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”.)

1 year ago
Yes TCS has lots of Flaws. They xld my booking of 17 April 2023 without intimation me And their own staff at PSK were unhelpful. My time and minutes was wasted. It's just harrasment on their part
Dola Mitra
6 years ago
CA2079956940517 is my file number. It was a simple renewal of passport. As per Passport portal no PV needed for renewal of passport if there was no name changed or no loss of passport, yet by mistake or intentionally RPO Kolkata sends my details for post police verification, and we all know the fact how they harass us unless you pay them 1000 bucks. I will not do that, even if they cancel my passport. when I asked for clarification to rpo, you know what they replied :"Your case has been granted on post-PV due to some changes in appearance.For Rpo Kolkata." This is corruption free Digital India where we pay taxes in huge amount and we suffer. Neither Sushma Swaraj Mam bothered to intervene nor did Mr. Modi himself bothered to intervene. I am also looking for justice. Can anyone in this country help me. I will not go for PV, never. Thats my decision
Yadav Rakesh
7 years ago
anti curruption against police varrification . Please help me if i am suffring by a police officer harrassed me . please help !!!!! he want money for clear varrification .
1 decade ago
MLF should lead from the front against Corruption at High Places
1 decade ago
In every Government Depts. wherever corruption takes place an FIR should invariably be lodged with Anti Corruption Bureau so that corruption can be avoided, now no point to tolerate such rubbish.
1 decade ago
dear sir/madam

the same problem lies at PSK Amritsar (Punjab). no appointment can be booked at PSK Amritsar as appointment closes within 2-3 seconds when it is opened. shame on TCS.

please do the needful..
choksi R
1 decade ago

I have mentioned my comment in an earlier article on pune passport office about PSK asking for documents which are not demanded or listed on the website under 'documents required'. I had to renew my minor son's passport and I had filled online form and taken appointment. I had checked on the website the list of documents to take and it showed only original passport of the minor and Form H to be taken.

But at the PSK counter they asked for parents' passport photocopies along with original which was not listed on the website under 'requird documents'. Due to this many people who had come from far areas had to go back.

This is incorrect. If it is not mentioned on the website, then the PSK cannot ask for those documents.

1 decade ago
I will share my pleasant experience with TCS passport seva kendra at Lower Parel,Mumbai.With the most efficient system ,my son got his renewed passport within 2 days ie on 9th mar 2013.I went through the same a, b c counter process for my son and it was quite fast.

Mrs Supriyaa Kubal,Director,
"iYojana" Financial Planners
Ubaldo C DSouza
Replied to SUPRIYAA KUBAL comment 1 decade ago
Congratulations to Mrs. Kubal and to the Lower Parel office which enabled her pleasant experience. Is the Pune office listening and do they realise that it can be done smoothly but they are not doing it? Do they deserve to be where they have been ensconced, perhaps through nepotism?
Vaidya Dattatraya Vasudeo
1 decade ago
" I was lucky enough to be sent to the manager’s cabin, which was in the next room. Looking at my plight, she tried to
expedite my application. "
I am sure there were many other who were suffering the same way or more. While I sympathize with the senior citizens, unless there is a provision for giving priority to senior citizens, which should be there, this effort of expediting a specific application of Mr. Roop Karnani, is no different than breaking the queue. This is injustice to all the senior citizens who were in the queue before Mr.Roop Karnani. This is no different than people getting the work done at Railway Booking, Post Office, ST Stands etc. from the back door. The only difference that can be argued is that Mr.Roop Karnani was not doing it for making money and corrupting the entire system. None the less, if his application was processed with priority for any reason, he has caused injustice to others. EVEN THOUGH IN NEAR FUTURE I WILL NOT BE WAITING IN QUEUE FOR PASSPORT, I AM VERY THANKFUL AND GRATEFUL TO HIM FOR TAKING UP THE MATTER TENACIOUSLY WITH HIGHER AUTHORITIES. I WISH EVERY PERSON WHO SUFFERS, SHOULD NOT SUFFER IN SILENCE AND MUST TAKE UP THE MATTER WITH APROPRIATATE AUTHORITIES, EVERY TIME.
Ramesh Iyer
1 decade ago
I had filled and submitted my application for reissue of my passport a fortnight back and am yet to manage an online appointment. I reside in Mumbai, and though there are three PSKs listed on MEA website in my login, namely in Malad, Andheri, and Lower Parel, as Mr. Karnani has mentioned the slots get filled up mysteriously within a minute after 3 p.m. Having gone through the ritual of seeking an online application for over 10 days (logging in at 2.50 p.m. and trying at 3 p.m. sharp) I approached the RPO in Prabhadevi couple of days back, only to be told that I HAVE to seek an online appointment. So much for peoople-friendly PPP initiatives of the govt. Wish someone higher up in the MEA takes note of such issues to streamline the process.
M K Gupta
1 decade ago
If such an horrendous harassment is faced by a Sr. Journalist, what about commoner. All this is deliberate to mint money through agents.
Ubaldo C DSouza
1 decade ago
In the pune passport harassment case, is the ACB joining those they can't beat?
Suresh Ramasubramanian
1 decade ago
Some of this criticism is overblown. Marriage certificate does get asked for when there is a change of name due to marriage, husbands name to be endorsed on the wife's passport.

Then the token number is on a separate slip which is clearly printed in block letters and a big font.

The rest of the complaints about overcrowding, police verification delays and touts booking slots are quite valid but there are too many details where this gentleman is needlessly complaining .. I went through the same a, b c counter process for my son and it was quite fast, in chennai not pune but same tcs passport seva kendra
Ubaldo C DSouza
Replied to Suresh Ramasubramanian comment 1 decade ago
You have said it - your experience is in Chennai and congratulations to the Chennai passport staff concerned. But as another comment has said it - 'if it can be done in Chennai, why not in Pune?'. What do you have to say about that one? Corruption appetites and the level of morals vary from place to place and from staff bunch to staff bunch. Once more, congratulations to the Chennai people.
Vinita Deshmukh
Replied to Suresh Ramasubramanian comment 1 decade ago
Unfortunately, the same TCS's PSK in Pune is mired with harassment. If it is so smoothsailing in Chennia why can't it be replicated in Pune I wonder?
1 decade ago
Obviously there is basic flaw in the running of the scheme.

Why is it so difficult for TCS or the MEA to sit together and find out the work flow?Where is the delay happening and how can it can be addressed? TCS provides cutting edge technology to the developed world and why can't they have this system up and running.

The first point of struggle as everyone has been shouting is about the fixing of an online appointment.It opens at a particular time and because the system gets overloaded due to the massive logging in of thousands or tens of thousands of applicants it is over in a few short minutes.Everyone is left staring at the screen saying 625/650 appointments have been fixed and try the next working day!!

Very recently IRCTC enhanced their server capacity and they now serve lakhs of online booking of train tickets for several days/weeks/months into the future.Just imagine if IRCTC were working on the lines of PSK served by TCS!!

We should be able to book much further in advance than a day or two that gets filled up in no time.How difficult is it to enhance the capacity of the servers to take on the load.Has anyone studied how the US consulate handles this??

Assuming that you indeed got the appointment and are physically at the PSK.
Now there are people who are renewing their PPs with no change in address and personal particulars.It is simple and straight forward for them.Why should they be made to stand in the same line and waste hours??Have a separate line for them and be more productive.

For the others let there be huge boards displaying the documents needed.This being the first point of contact, more delays happen here.Have more people screening the applicants and let it flow faster.This is where one gets the token and goes to counters A,B and C.

After finishing A, everybody waits for their magical token number to come up on screen to go to counter B and the same repetition to go to counter C.
Why can't this needless waiting in que be taken away.In fact the work done by the passport officers at counters B and C is miniscule and over in a minute.
But why should people go through the pain of waiting for hours at both counters and then another line to collect an acknowledgement.

There is definitely redundancy built in here and this is not insurmountable.

Just study the work flow pattern and clear the bottleneck(s).
Save the millions from this pain not to speak of man years lost in the process of trying to get an online appointment and waiting in endless que lines for deliverance.
Vinita Deshmukh
Replied to rajeshpai comment 1 decade ago
Perfectly agree with you. TCS insists there is no flaw in their server system
1 decade ago
That is very good and quodos to MLF and further who will file FIR with Anti Corruption in EPF Cases.
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