Tatkal passport: Online appointments in Pune turning into nightmare

Moneylife’s campaign in 2013 about problems at Pune passport office has relatively ironed out the process of passport applications. However, recently, the alleged interference of touts seems to have put Tatkal passport applicants in a spot

Akanksha Samyal studies in Fergusson College in Pune. Her father Col Pradeep Samyal (retd) resides in Canada and had come down in January to renew her passport through Tatkal so that she gets it between one to seven days. However, he did not get the online appointment for over two weeks. Col Samyal searched on Google for help and found my cell number. When he called me up, I asked him to take a walk-in appointment. However, since January 2014, the walk-in appointments at Pune Passport Office are restricted to senior citizens, the disabled and for children below 14 years.
 

When I called up the Assistant Passport Officer and asked her as to what does a citizen, other than these three categories do, she casually stated that I would have to call up the office of Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in Delhi and seek their permission and if I get it, then she would give the walk-in appointment. I told her to give this piece of information in writing. Lo and behold, within an hour’s time she gave Col Samyal a walk-in appointment for the next day. The objective of the campaign is not to procure appointments through ‘influence’ but to ensure that the passport applicant gets his or her appointment immediately after paying online as has been stated in the website.
 

Col Samyal pointed out that, “When I approached a passport agent, he said that if I give him my login and password, then he would give me the online appointment within 24 hours. However, I have never in my life gone through illegal ways and hence was determined to keep trying.”
 

While the website of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) www.passport.gov.in clearly states “Members of the public are advised to desist from dealing with touts / agents who may be charging exorbitantly for their service and further, may be making false promises about arranging assured urgent appointment or faster passport service delivery…Such incidents of harassment / influence by them may be reported to concerned Passport Officer”, it seems that touts are flourishing in Pune and alleged mass capturing of online appointments by these middle men is on the rise particularly for Tatkal passports.
 

Col Samyal, who finally got his daughter’s passport but was harassed for about two weeks over the issue of online appointments, gives a probable explanation from his experience. He states, “At the Schedule Appointment screen after choosing the PSK LOCATION and entering the CHARACTERS DISPLAYED when I pressed the NEXT button, instead of getting the ‘Book Appointment button’ the screen immediately refreshes with a new picture”. The above process kept repeating from 12pm till 12.15om on 18th January and till 12:20pm on 19th January for more than 40-50 times. Then in the end, I got the following message flashed on top:- “No Tatkaal appointments are available for the selected Passport Seva Kendra (PSK). Please try scheduling an appointment later on 19/01/2014 /// 20/01/2014 at 12:00 PM onwards” on both days respectively.
 

“My internet connection was perfect and fast, the Passport Server worked perfectly fine on both days. Today in addition, I spoke to the Passport Customer care and they advised me to try it on a different browser - Internet Explorer. I changed my browser, but there was still no change. It just can’t happen that the `Book Appointment button’ should repeatedly keep refreshing over the entire 15 to 20 minutes with a new picture asking to re-enter the letters displayed. As I had explained before, the Tatkal System is dominated by majority of the applicants taking appointments through touts. These "AGENTS" ask us for our user ID and password. The Passport Officer I met said that they are using the same web portal as us. If so then I would like to ask - How is it that they can get us an assured appointment over the next two days? There is a strong possibility of collusion by some passport officials or computer operators who may be manipulating the system.”
 

Writing to the Passport Officer, Col Samyal requested that, “you try the Tatkal Booking through a dummy account to check the validity of the system. There could also be some System Administrator who may be manipulating the system - as the system allows one to reach the payment portal and pay fees but prevents booking of actual appointment. Checking the logs and the log-in timings of the computer operators can surely give clues to the systemic manipulation, which I strongly suspect is being carried out. The ‘AGENTS’ are very obviously manipulating the system. In the end I can only say that the present system is a failure, requires an external intervention and a major re-haul.”
 

“If after two to three weeks of sincere efforts one fails to get Tatkal Appointment - then the very purpose of Tatkal is defeated. I am terribly disappointed with my experience and I am not too sure if the ‘AGENTS’ who thrive only because of systemic failure can ever be eliminated. I wonder how much time it takes to streamline and improve the system?’’

 “My guess is as follows:
 

 1. Agents get applicants to share their User ID and password
 

2. Agents have someone on the inside who has server administrator rights
 

3. Agents give a list of User ID/s and password/s to the administrator
 

4. When they log in with the User ID/s and password/s of the applicants (who have agreed to pay a fee to the agent), the administrator intervenes and ensures that the particular ID/s + password/s gets priority for the appointment
 

5. This way, anyone not using an agent, will find it near impossible to get an appointment, while those going thru the agent will get an appointment
 

Another applicant, Shubham Agarwal had the same traumatic experience. He wrote to me, “I have been experiencing a failure in booking Tatkaal appointment from last 10 days through the online portal. The system opens up at 12:00 noon and closes in 8-10 minutes approx. During this time after entering the PSK and unique characters it says, "unable to process. Please try later". I have tried online and challan payment both, different internet servers, browsers and everything else possible.”
 

“Whereas I recently found agents who are specifically working to get Tatkaal Appointments at a hefty price. Looks like they have been favoured by the system over the general public. The details of such an agent are as under:
 

http://pune.quikr.com/TATKAAL-PASSPORT-APPOINTMENT-SLOT-BOOKING-CALL-09041156264-W0QQAdIdZ113034127
 

Yet another passport applicant, Agam Gupta, who had to travel to UAE due to a new job, also did not get his online appointment under Tatkal. It was after my intervention that he finally got it. He writes: “I got selected in company at UAE and I required passport urgently, so I have collected all the document required for Tatkal passport and I am trying for appointment from last 10 days but unable to get also I have tried with agents even they are not able to do anything. I am helpless now this is very serious I may lose the opportunity if I didn’t get the passport I am also ready to spend money required for this. I kindly request you to please help me.”
 

Under the banner of RTI Forum for Instant Information (RFII) of which I am the convener, I organized a Passport complaint at a public garden in Pune on Sunday, 15th March. Once again, the major complaint pertained to the same issue of inability to get online appointment after applying and paying for Tatkal passport. Arti Karkhanis, one of the passport applicants, stated that, after her inability to get a Tatkal appointment she was advised by the passport officer to apply under the normal passport which takes 30 to 45 days to be issued. Karkhanis is going on a holiday shortly and hence wanted the re-issuance of her passport at the earliest.
 

RFII takes strong objection against the passport officers misguiding applicants instead of taking action against the alleged nexus of passport agents and staffers of the passport office. This is because passport agents have told applicants that if they give their login and password, then the agents will get applicants Tatkal appointments within a day. RFII demands that the passport office take strong action against passport agents or RFII will embark upon an agitation soon.
 

(For more details, contact Vinita Deshmukh 98230 36663 or email her at [email protected])

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    COMMENTS

    sagar borage

    6 years ago

    Hello,My registered birth date is wrong it is 1989 but after my 5th standard everywhere it is 1990(on every mark sheet & on voting card). Do I need to make affidavit on birth certificate as 1990 because s.s.c DOB & birth certificate DOB differs.

    Akash Jain

    6 years ago

    I am facing the exact same issues mentioned above. I am now deliberating whether I should shell out money to agents and get the passport done (because it is urgent and important) or to stick to the course and try scheduling appointments myself through the web portal. Its been 10 days I am consistently trying to login on website at 12pm and trying to book an appoint. Its a major inconvenience to drop everything on hand and go book the appointment online. Not to mention, it defeats the 'tatkal' purpose if I cannot book the appointment for more than 10 days

    SS

    7 years ago

    Hi,

    I see these are incidents from Pune, but it is no different in Mumbai. I have over the last almost 15 days tried to get a tatkaal appointment hand have encountered similar problems:
    1. When I first applied, it took me to the payment getway but never to the schedule appointment.
    2. The time I booked my first appointment, at schedule appointment it showed a date of 8th April but when the final page appeared it was 20th May!
    3. Since I am travelling early next month, I am trying to obtain a tatkaal appointment for my son , such that he can travel with me but PSK Thane shows 50 slots booked each day and none is mine!
    4. Either the message is "unable to process your request, please try after sometime" OR " Please enter the letters in the image correctly".
    4. Its a no-brainer that thee is a collusion between agents and passport officials.
    5. Agents charge anything between a 15 to 30 K for a tatkaal passport that would otherwise cost 3K.
    6. Is there a way I can (in Mumbai)/we can solve this problem, apart from writing it here so more and more people are aware of this?
    7. Can I try some other walk-in option (yes they have none except for senior citizens, PCC and Disabled)
    8. Strange even the modus operandi points to the rules being designed in a way to let the agents thrive else how would anyone other than senior citizen, disabled get a passport on urgent basis except for trying with touts!

    NajmuddinMunirShaikh

    7 years ago

    In view of Mr. Tanmoy Chakroborty Passport Agents perhaps is passé, as since TCS has begun using technology to make the passport applicant’s experience smooth-sailing, it has encourage the touts agents to FLOURISH in their business.

    There are reputed travel agents recognized and governed by the National and International Organization the same where also Recognized by the Ministry Of External Affair and in Number in all over India there will be 1500 to 1800 only such recognized agents and they are still in the business as according to the Laws .

    In the earlier system in Pune , the Recognized Passport Agents by Ministry Of External Affair are below 100 in numbers.

    And The Touts agents in Pune City are 2000 + as per various Advertisements.

    I understand, as TCS are now operating, anything that don’t work for them, simply put “Agents” to bar, but to whom Reputed Travel Agents or Touts Agents.

    NON AVAILABILITY to get the TATKAL APPOINTMNETS, may it be a failure of TCS or is it a Passport Scam or alleged nexus of passport agents and staffers of the passport office or of the Touts, a proper channel or investigation must be recommended and should be investigated by the State CID, Central CBI and the culprits must be punished and the problem must be solved.

    However who ever be responsible, and are the culprits, the question Since the LAUNCH of Passport Seva Project getting Appointment was not and is a easy Jobs for the Citizen, and since it is managed by the TCS, it is the failure of TCS technology, on moral ground TCS must take responsibility for all.

    REPLY

    NajmuddinMunirShaikh

    In Reply to NajmuddinMunirShaikh 7 years ago

    My above comments is in veiw of news report on :

    MONEYLIFE IMPACT: TCS assures to look into online Tatkal passport appointments scam at Pune.

    Link : http://www.moneylife.in/article/moneylif...

    Ambareesh Baliga

    7 years ago

    For Tatkal application we need to submit Verification Certificate (VC) signed by responsible government officers as mentioned in the annexure for Tatkal Application. This procedure avoids the wait for Police Verification (though it is done in due course) the passport is issued immediately. Getting the VC is a nightmare if you are not well connected. Especially for those who can't find someone to provide them a VC - Why don't they introduce a process where police verfication is done on a Tatkal Basis on payment of "official" fee?
    Secondly for general information of Tatkal applicants - Our currency note with RBI Governor's signature is a valid tender but a VC signed by Reserve Bank of India's Senior Officer is not a valid verification certificate for the purpose of passport. It is supposedly not a Government Institution per passport rules!!!

    TIHARwale

    7 years ago

    Unable to comprehend because Online booking of appoinments is working fine. i had opportunity to book slots twice in the past 6 months. in case the application submission date was in 14 days but passport got delivered within 25 days after submission of papers. in the second case submission date came within a week but and police verification was completed within next 14 days but it is more than a month after that no sign update about passport.

    The PSK housed in Herald House run with IT Team of TCS has more than 30 counters to accept papers and take biometric identity and staff are well behaved. the problem could be at the Passport departments Govt staff

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    US issues arrest warrant against Devyani Khobragade
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    The US issued an arrest warrant against Devyani Khobragade after prosecutors re-indicted her on visa fraud charges and accused the Indian diplomat of 'illegally' underpaying and 'exploiting' her domestic maid.
     
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