Passport verification: MV Gopalakrishnan from Bangalore storms out from paying a bribe
A non- resident Indian since the last two decades, Mathur Venkatraman Gopalakrishnan returned after retiring in the Gulf. For the first time since, he went to reissue his passport in India. He found that the Passport Seva Kendra to be very accessible with procedures made easy. However, he had a hassle with the passport verification and wished the Passport Seva Kendra did not allow in its processes for the police to contact the passport applicants directly. “Policemen are mostly dishonest and seek personal gain from every little task they do,” he told I Paid A Bribe.
In the middle of last month, when Gopalakrishnan visited the Vidyaranyapuram Police Station for verification, he was hassled at various stages. The officials asked the applicants to produce documents that were not specified anywhere in the verification process. “They were trying to find reasons to reject a person’s application. They asked me to show proof for my date of birth. So many documents have my registered date of birth. But, they wanted to see my SSLC certificate only and I didn't have it then,”said an irritated Gopalakrishnan who urged a uniform set of guidelines be listed on the website for reference. At this instance of Gopalakrishnan not having his document, the officer pounced on him to pay a bribe for procuring a clearance certificate.
“There were around eight to ten people that day in the police station and everyone encountered a similar experience. All applicants were shamelessly asked by the officers to pay a bribe ranging from Rs. 500 to 1,000 for completing their verification,” said Gopalakrishnan. An officer named Murthy was handling Gopalakrishnan’s file and asked him to pay a bribe of nine hundred rupees to which severe protest was made by Gopalakrishnan.
He gave the policeman a piece of his mind, refused to pay the money and stormed out of the police station. For a long time, he felt that his firm action will face repercussions. However, his clearance certificate did come on time. Gopalakrishnan told I Paid A Bribe that he urges the people to change their attitude towards paying bribes as a way of getting things done. For a man who has always gets his passport renewed in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, he said that timely issue of passports, while is a major concern is not the priority. “Issue of passports should be done in such a way that applicants don't feel harassed,” he stated.
- By Aruna Krishnan