Corruption is present at every nook and cranny of our country. Whether it be private or government, no field is spared by it. For getting a driving license to passport one needs to pay an illegal service fee.
Recently, a matter came into limelight through KhabarLive, when a young software engineer from Ghaziabad decided to ring an alarm against rampant corruption by police officials for address verification for making or renewing passport.
Ajay Singh made a secret video of a police officer demanding a bribe for verifying the address. Those who have had got their passport made or renewed might be familiar with this practice that police usually charges an amount for address verification that is absolutely free of cost. But this youth decided to teach the police official a lesson and therefore shot a video of the incident.
When Ajay went to Passport seva kendra to renew his expired passport, little did he know that after the requisite formalities at the passport office, one has to pay a bribe to police officials in order to get the police verification done. A couple of people who were also at Passport seva kendra told Ajay that if one doesn’t pay the said “Fees” to the police official, their passport process can get delayed for days.
“I am a software engineer and my company has a policy wherein employees have to be ready with a valid passport at all times in case of overseas business. I went to the Passport Seva Kendra, registered, scheduled a meeting with the authorities, and finished the required processes. The next step involved a police official verifying my address.
While in the Passport Seva Kendra, Ajay interacted with other people applying for their own passports. While talking to them, he was surprised by how almost all of them said that the next process – the police verification – would involve bribing the police official else the process would take ages. Ajay was shocked by how people talked about bribery with such complacency, as though it was a normal component of the process to get a passport. ” Ajay said while talking to KhabarLive.
As expected When the police official came to his flat for address verification he indirectly hinted towards the bribe. Ajay didn’t succumb to this tactic and refused instead. But he recorded the series of events with his mobile phone camera to have the proof of the wrongful act.
“He asks bribe at 3:36 minutes and says confidently, ‘Lao hisaab kitaab kar do,’ and asks Rs 2000 to Rs 4000, which I denied, and I asked for the receipt. He obviously refused and asked why I needed a receipt. To which I sarcastically responded that I would show it to the IT department to get rebate. This made him uneasy. He gave me a suspicious look and rushed out, ensuring me that he would send a positive report only.”
Demanding a bribe for the address verification is a common practice across all the country whereas it is strictly forbidden. If one pays this bribe then the file is smoothly processed but if one doesn’t then various beurocratic ifs and buts are searched to stall the process. Whereas it is clearly mentioned on the official website of passport India that no bribe need to be paid if demanded.
“Don’t pay bribes. In case of demand of bribe by any Passport official in respect of any Passport-related service, you may immediately contact the Chief Vigilance Officer of the Ministry at the address mentioned. Please mention your e-mail address, contact telephone, File Reference Number (if available) in your communication.”
Editor: We appreciate the courage shown by this young man in bringing this common yet shunned practice into the forefront. From next time, do not pay this so called “fees” to verify the address rather ask for a receipt from the police officer.