The country’s most socially active police force, Mumbai police, is using its influence to spread awareness among citizens – this time about the costs associated with police verification for passports.
Mumbai police’s official Twitter account boasts of 45 lakh followers, way more than any other police department in the country.
It’s social media team took to their Twitter account earlier today to inform citizens about the fact that the mandatory police verification for passports is a ‘free service’ provided by the department.
It also advised citizens to file a complaint in case the concerned official or anyone else tries to demand bribe under the guise of completing the verification.
“Police Verification for Passport is a free of cost Government Service and part of our duty. Don’t fall prey to, encourage or endorse any undue demand for this service from ANYONE. Report for assured action on http://bit.ly/WebComplaints #SpreadTheWord,” it tweeted.
Police Verification for Passport is a free of cost Government Service and part of our duty. Don’t fall prey to, encourage or endorse any undue demand for this service from ANYONE. Report for assured action on https://t.co/cpYRdlMtyo #SpreadTheWord pic.twitter.com/uLzIFXIFMF
— Mumbai Police (@MumbaiPolice) May 9, 2018
The link in the tweet directs to the Mumbai Police’s website, where applicants can report such cases by filing an e-complaint.
The clarification comes in the wake of several instances where applicants have ended up coughing up money to ensure their verification is completed successfully and on time.
“The official who had visited our house for my son’s police verification repeatedly asked us if we would like to complete the process ‘on priority’. When we asked him if he was referring to a government-approved method, he was reluctant to answer and stopped pushing us for the same,” said Ghatkopar resident Karishma N.
While the service has always been free, some officials pray on the applicant’s fear of rejection or urgency to demand bribes for doing a job they would have done anyway.
Therefore, even if the law does not prescribe a fee, applicants often end up bribing officials to ensure they don’t intentionally try to sabotage their verification.
The internet is littered with cases wherein people have alleged that their verification failed after they refused to bribe the official.
Just last month, Bathinda Vigilance Bureau arrested a constable and Home Guard jawan after they were caught red-handed while taking a bribe of Rs 12,000 from a person for his passport verification.
Meanwhile, to make the passport procurement process more seamless, the Ministry for External Affairs has introduced Out-Of-Turn Passports for normal first-time applicants under which police verification is done after the passport has been issued.
The decision to push verification after passport issuance was taken to curb delays and instances of bribes.