Pune Passport Grievance Forum files complaint with CIC; demands transparency from TCS and MEA

Proving the point that the ministry of external affairs has outsourced passport work to TCS and has given authorization, permission as well as 100% funds for the work, TCS is a public authority under the RTI Act. A complaint has been filed with the Central Information Commission, Delhi by the Pune Passport Grievance Forum

The Pune Passport Grievance Forum (PPGF) which continues to receive several complaints everyday regarding non-issuance of passports to eligible applicants and has been trying to resolve problems through interaction with TCS and MEA officials, is now gearing up for the next step of taking the campaign forward.

 

On 11th March, at 9.30am, the PPGF will hold an agitation at the TCS’s Passport Seva Kendra office in Mundhwa, Pune. It will also hold an on-the-spot citizen meeting there. Complaint forms will be made available for affected passport applicants. The PPGF will demand streamlining of the passport issuance system; making a friendly and easily accessible online appointment system; putting up of boards at the entrance to list the exact nature of documents required for normal and tatkal passports so as to avoid unnecessary harassment to citizens and; demand ousting of passport agents who are given easy entry into the Passport Seva Kendra whereas citizens can enter, strictly by appointment. A deadline of 15 days would be given to TCS as well as MEA’s Passport Office at Senapati Bapat Road to rectify the above faults.

 

The PPGF will also demand from TCS to put the Master Service Agreement between the company and MEA in the public domain. TCS has put up the Master Service Agreement in the public domain for its venture with an American firm, AC Nielsen (US) Inc. If it can do it in the case of a multi-national company why not in the case of Indian government’s Public Private Partnership venture. Master Services Agreement, by and between Tata America International Corporation & Tata Consultancy Services Limited and ACNielsen (US), Inc. Effective as of October 1, 2007.

 

Meanwhile, Vijay Kumbhar, one of the conveners of the PPGF has filed a complaint with the Central Information Commission, demanding transparency from TCS, which is a public authority under the Right to Information (RTI) Act as the Government of India has given authorization, permission as well as 100% funds for the work in the public private partnership (PPP) venture.

 

Kumbhar, in his complaint has made the following arguments, which makes it mandatory for TCS to disseminate information under the RTI Act:
 

“1) As a public authority named ministry of external affairs of India (MEA) performs passport related work as per the Passport Act, through its division consular, passport and visa (CPV);

2) As MEA has outsourced above work and has given authorisation as well as permission to Tata consultancy services (TCS) for the same;

3) As MEA gives 100% funds for above work, mode of funding is built, operate, transfer;

4) As per RTI Act 2005 “public authority” means any authority or body or institution of self-government established or constituted—

by notification issued or order made by the appropriate government, and includes any body owned, controlled or substantially financed;

5) As per above provision TCS is a public authority;

6) As MEA has entered in to master agreement with TCS and such an agrreement is called authorisation or permission;

7) As per section 2 (i) ‘record’ includes—

(a) any document, manuscript and file;

(b) any microfilm, microfiche and facsimile copy of a document;

(c) any reproduction of image or images embodied in such microfilm (whether enlarged or not);

(d) any other material produced by a computer or any other device;

8) As per Section 4 (1) (b) (v) of the RTI Act, it is duty of the public authority to publish the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records, held by it or under its control or used by its employees for discharging its functions;

9) As per Section 4 (1) (b) (xiii ) of the RTI Act, it is duty of the public authority to publish particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorisations granted by it;

10) As per Section 4 (c) a public authority has to publish all relevant facts while formulating important policies or announcing the decisions which affect public;

11) As per Section 4 (d) a public authority has to provide reasons for its administrative or quasi-judicial decisions to affected persons;

12) As information covered in point no 7, 8, 9 and 10 is always available in permits authorisations called agreement or work order,

13) As lot of other information is available on websites of MEA and TCS;

14) As none of the above authorities have sou motu disseminated above mentioned agreement between MEA and TCS;

15) As, I personally along with Ms Vandana Chavan , MP (Rajya Sabha) , Vinita Deshmukh and Sandeep Khardekar from Pune, went to Regional Passport Office, Pune and requested for above agreement, but it was not available with them;

16) As, I am the person, who has been denied access to records under this Act,

I am filing this complaint u/s 18 (1) (f) of the RTI Act, I request you to initiate an inquiry u/s 18 (2) of RTI act and compel both the public authorities to disseminate the said agreement and all other transactions between them and publish it on their websites.”

 

To a question about the role of the TCS in the passport project posed by MP Laxmant Naik in the Rajya Sabha in August 2012, E Ahmed, minister of state in ministry of external affairs had replied, “As per the agreement, it is the duty of TCS to ensure ‘Under the contractual obligations, the role and responsibilities of service provider include provision/ setting up of

  1. all hardware, software, networking & personal computers of the entire Passport system,
  2. physical infrastructure for all PSKs as determined by the ministry in terms of RFP, including interiors thereof,
  3. Data Centre (DC), Disaster Recovery Centre (DRC) and Central Passport Printing Facility(CPPF),
  4. maintenance and operations of all the aforesaid, staff for all private counters at PSKs,
  5. technical support for PSKs, POs, DC, DRC and CPPF,
  6. training of staff on the application software, general computer skills, soft skills, customer service & delivery,
  7. call centre and grievance handling,
  8. compliance with the Service Level Agreement,
  9. Change Management and communication strategy & implementation, and
  10. obtaining ISO (9001, 27001, 20000) certifications for the Passport System’.

Vinita Deshmukh earlier wrote about problems faced by applicants at the Pune Passport Office. Please access these stories through the following links:
 

Inordinate delays at Pune Passport office; RTI applications rejected
 

Pune Passport Grievance Forum: Participants blame TCS for delay in getting their passports on time
 

While Pune Regional Passport Officer assures easing procedures, TCS hides but cannot escape
 

Passport troubles in Pune: One agent assures online appointments for Rs200
 

We are not bound to give your passport in the 45-day period, says India’s Chief Passport Officer
 

File an RTI application if you do not get your passport in time

 

(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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    COMMENTS

    nagesh kini

    8 years ago

    Just because it is TCS it doesn't become great service! The babus were slow and at times corrupt but they delivered. Here they don't!

    Vijay Deshmukh

    8 years ago

    The passport office in Mundhva is gearing and preparing for bribery practice.Lack of uniform policy and unnecessary time torturing practice is the tactics in this direction. The idea of outsourcing is not in favor of common man, it is one more agency to loot common man.

    Sameer Zodgekar

    8 years ago

    The truth is that TCS knows absolutely nothins about Paasport and address proofs. The untrained, ignorant and arrogant staff often insist on only one document, that is Voter's ID Card as address proof. This document is actually the least reliable document; prone to massive spelling and other mistakes. They simply refuse to accept other genuine documents. Governmental officials did splendid job. They were faster, more courteous and more knowledgeable. TCS is a good software company that makes software accordin to detailed specifications. It is unable to handle this job; it cannot make specification. It has absolotely no knowledge about documentation. Passport work should be taken out of TCS's hand. Sameer Zodgekar

    REPLY

    Gajanan Mamidwar

    In Reply to Sameer Zodgekar 8 years ago

    Quite true. They told me that I can get refund of Rs.1000/- since my file had got closed due to non-receipt of police verification report. When I approached SB Road office for the same; I was denied any refund outright. Person told me that TCS people are new and they don't know procedures fully.

    Gajanan Mamidwar

    8 years ago

    I don't see any transparency in the working style of MEA. I have paid passport fee twice and yet to get my passport even after 5 weeks of police verification. Also, I was denied any refund of my earlier passport application fee of Rs. 1000/- at SB Road, Pune office.
    -Gajanan Mamidwar

    nirup

    8 years ago

    A very good initiative, hope u get the answers out!! I just want to tell that the same prob is bothering us in karnataka too, so when you're addressing the issue can you please represent n speak out for the whole nation??

    nagesh kini

    8 years ago

    Is this outsourcing not PPP that is subject to public scrutiny and RTI?

    anil garg

    8 years ago

    I feel after your taking up the issue system must have improved in Pune Passport Office.If it has not improved yet ,i feel we must take up this as an agitation and make them to improve services.

    REPLY

    Vinita Deshmukh

    In Reply to anil garg 8 years ago

    Nothing much has improved and therefore we need to agitate

    Vinita Deshmukh

    In Reply to anil garg 8 years ago

    Thanks and hope you are coming!

    Prakash Kundur

    8 years ago

    Hi Moneylife,
    Thanks for taking up this project and becoming the rallying point for all citizens who are unable to get the passport easily as it should have been the case.

    Please give the event to be held on the 11 March, as much publicity as possible so that people in large numbers can come and protest.

    The problem faced by Punekars is not unique.It is replicated all over India. A workable solution must be found to ease the mental torture of applicants.

    The billion rupee question is how can agents and touts manage to get appointments when aam aadmi cannot in spite of sitting in front of the terminal day after day??

    REPLY

    Vinita Deshmukh

    In Reply to Prakash Kundur 8 years ago

    Hope you are coming too!

    Amit

    8 years ago

    First of all thanks for coordinating these efforts. I am also waiting for my daughter's passport (aged 6 months) from last 4+ months. Have tried everything from visit to police station, commissioner office, passport office, logged online grievance but no status on that also. I will join you on 11th March.

    REPLY

    Vinita Deshmukh

    In Reply to Amit 8 years ago

    Looking forward to seeing you there!

    Moneylife Foundation honours women activists on International Women’s Day for the 4th year

    Why it is important to have a special day to recognize Women’s issues and why this year is especially important

     
    We live in strange times. One the one hand, almost all the glass ceilings that prevented Indian women from corporate achievement have been shattered. On the other, the rising sense of insecurity, that was manifest in the public protests that followed the gruesome gang-rape and death of a brave Delhi student have triggered the most regressive reactions and had a huge impact on women’s freedom.
     
    Moneylife Foundation, since its inception has started a tradition of honouring women who have made a difference to some aspect of society. For details of our event this year, click here.
     
    Just two years ago, when we still seemed to be marching ahead towards greater freedom for women, we honoured activists working on different aspects of civil society—school bus issues, advanced locality management, noise pollution, etc. The next year, we honoured activists who worked at ensuring that the rest of India caught up with those who were racing ahead and enjoying the fruits of liberalisation. In our third year, the two activists we honoured from Goa have devoted their lives to fighting child sexual abuse and trafficking of women. But if we thought that Goa’s problems were peculiar to a tourist paradise, we were so wrong. The Delhi gang-rape was a big wake up call! But it is a good time to recall the pioneering work done by two extraordinary activists for almost three decades on gender equality and working with some of the most marginalized people in India. 
     
    Jyoti Mhapsekar and six friends set up Stree Mukti Sanghatana in 1975 to work with disadvantaged women. A playwright and songwriter—her play Mulgi Zhali Ho! (It’s Girl!) became a subject of household discussion and has also been translated into Hindi. 
     
    This daughter of freedom fighters has now gone on to work with women ragpickers, who, she says, are at the lowest rung of the economic chain even in this work of sorting and clearing garbage. (Read more about her work in Moneylife : Beyond Money—Women for Women and the World Too!
     
    Meena Seshu of SANGRAM is the other activist that Moneylife Foundation is honoured to felicitate.  SANGRAM, based in Sangli, is a sex workers’ collective which seeks to empower the women to fight for their human rights and work against the spread of HIV/AIDs. 
     
    When Meena Seshu first entered a brothel in rural India, she was expecting a melodramatic scene from a Bollywood film, in which poor helpless women were being victimised by brutal, aggressive men. Seshu, who runs SANGRAM, an Indian non-governmental organisation (NGO) that works with sex workers to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, soon found that the reality was rather different. These women were, for the most part, in control of their lives, but through a combination of prejudice and fear were being mistreated by every section of society.  Meena’s work is best explained through this touching video.
     
    Here is a glimpse of what Moneylife Foundation has done in the past:
    Women’ Day 2010: Ms Kishori Udeshi, first woman deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India spoke on women’s rights and finance. That day, we honoured Ms Anandini Thakur, 82 and a well known civic activist, Ms Sumaira Abdulali of Awaaz Foundation which works on noise and environmental issues and Ms Indrani Malkani, who pioneered the safe schoolbus project.  (Know your bank as well, says Kishori J Udeshi of BCSBI, in Moneylife Event on International Women's Day and pictures here)
     
    March 2011: Deena Mehta, the first lady director of the Bombay Stock Exchange was our chief guest. We felicitated:
    Ms Nikita Ketkar of Masoom, an NGO that runs night schools for children; Ms Preeti Telang, of Swadhar Fin-Access, an NGO that teaches basics of financial literacy to marginalized people in Dharavi, Mumbai; and Ms Chandita Mukherjee, of Comet Media, which produces films and educational toys for children.
     
    Women’s Day 2012: We felicitated two amazing women from Goa: 
    Advocate Albertina Almeida, a women’s rights activist, and  Ms Nishtha Desai who has worked against child sexual abuse, got the government to pass a law to protect against paedophilia. (Moneylife Foundation honours Goa women activists and Pictures here)
     
    Come and join us on Friday March 8th at Yacht Club, Colaba, to celebrate this year’s selection of women (supported by DSP BlackRock's Winvestor Initiative) who are making a difference to our world. Register now!
     
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    CAG finds discrepancies in Rs52,000 crore farm debt waiver scheme

    The CAG has also found instances of tampering of records and criticised the Department of Financial Services in the finance ministry for deficient monitoring of the multi-crore scheme

    Expressing serious concern over the implementation of Rs52,000 crore farm debt waiver scheme, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) said in several cases ineligible farmers were given benefit while deserving ones were left out.

     

    The CAG has also found instances of tampering of records and criticised the Department of Financial Services (DFS) in the finance ministry for deficient monitoring of the multi-crore scheme.

     

    “Overall, the Performance Audit revealed that in ...(22.32% of cases test checked) there were lapses/errors which raised serious concern about the implementation of the scheme”, said the CAG report tabled in Parliament today.

     

    The report deals with Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme (ADWDRS) 2008 under which 3.69 crore small and marginal farmers and 60 lakh other farmers were given debt relief to the extent of Rs52,516 crore.

     

    The CAG report said in several cases “farmers who had taken a loan for non-agricultural purposes or whose loans did not meet eligibility conditions, were given benefits under the scheme.”

     

    It said several farmers who were eligible for the benefit under the scheme were not considered for loan waiver by the lending institutions.

     

    Besides other observations, the report said the microfinance institutions (MFIs) were given benefit under the scheme in violation of the debt waiver guidelines.

     

    The banks, it said, also claimed undue benefits like penal interest, legal charges, miscellaneous charges from the government. Under the scheme, banks were supposed to bear these charges themselves.

     

    Referring to the issue tampering of records, CAG suggested DFS should review such cases and take “stringent action” against erring officials and banks.

  • User 

    COMMENTS

    S BHASKARA NARAYANA

    8 years ago

    The present Agl.crop loan subsidy of interest against gold ornaments (i.e., just @4% p.a.) is similar misuse of the scheme, as most of the borrowers are realtors and other than agl. borrowers. No scale of finance is followed by the banks, no fool proof evidence is not envisaged, simply because the top brass pressurise the operational staff to meet their target, which is a safe lending and meets the priority sector lending benchmark.

    Anil Agashe

    8 years ago

    CAG should name individual banks who have done wrong. Haul up the top management of these banks. Stop their pension and other benefits if they have since retired and if in service suspend them and conduct inquiry in 3 months.

    REPLY

    M G WARRIER

    In Reply to Anil Agashe 8 years ago

    On the basis of the CAG report, it is for the government to take further action, if any. In India 'Law takes its course' and nothing happens that fast. 5 years have already gone. The tragedy is, where 'waiver' is a possibility, those who 'give' loans and those who 'take' loans, take things easy and keep waiting for the waiver announcement.

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