Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Every time I have to go to any government office I shiver in anticipation. My last passport was issued from Patna 10 years back. It was a very long and painful process. My passport was rejected the first time due to negative police verification report. But after doing few rounds of the passport office and some jugaad it was finally reissued after 1 year of applying. It was a horrible experience.

My passport expired last year so I had to get it renewed. The process has changed a lot and it is a lot easier and user friendly now. The whole front office process has been outsourced to Tata Consultancy Services(TCS). There are passport seva kendras(PSKs) in every state. You have to go to the passport seva kendra to submit your passport application. You'll find both TCS as well as government babus at the passport seva kendras. My experience at PSK Patna was good.

PSK patna is located on Ashiyana Digha road. To reach there, you drive straight on Bailey road. After Raja Bazaar you take right turn and enter Ashiyana Digha Road. It is hardly 200 meters on Ashiyana Digha road. It if the first prominent building on the lefe side. You'll notice it immediately.

For the information of all the readers who wish to apply to PSK,Patna I am writing down the whole procedure.

The first step is to register you-self at passport seva portal. The process is online now. So you can not apply unless you have an account on passport seva portal.

Download relevant application form. Fill it in correctly and save it on you laptop/PC. When you save the PDF an xml file is generated as well. Upload this XML. Yes, you are right. It seems a bit weird that you upload XML and the actual PDF. Probably the guy who wrote this webpage at TCS assumed everyone was a techie like him. If you have made any mistakes in the form then do not worry as everything will be corrected at the PSK. At the PSK they reenter everything in front of you and ask you to verify the details. The online form is just for taking appointment.

After uploading the XML, you'll have to schedule an appointment. That is a tricky part. Like everything else in our country getting an appointment to passport office is not east. Best time to try for appointment is 4:55 pm. You must have high speed internet connection as appoint slots get filled up very fast. Another time is Monday mornings after 8 am.

My experience at Patna passport seva kendra was kind of mixed. It was extremely chaotic. They did not care much about appointment time. I entered passport seva kendra at 2:30 pm for 2:45 pm appointment and finally came out at 6:30 pm. It took 2 hours to get the token. And another 2 hours  to meet all the officials.

You'll have to meet 2-3 guys in the PSK. The first person you meet will be someone from TCS. He'll check your documents and tell you whether you can proceed further or you need more document. For reissue they asked me only first 2 and last 2 copies of old passport as there was no change in my details and address.

After that I was directed to another cabin area where my documents were collected, finger prints were taken and cash collected. All this was done by TCS guy who seemed very friendly. Now you do not have to carry any photos with you. It'll be taken by the same at the PSK. No need to make demand drafts for fee payment. You can pay cash. It is at this booth where the form is filled in before you. And you can make any final changes in the form. Here you pay the fee and will be directed to the next officer who sits in a different hall.

I was directed to another cabin area. There I had to wait for sometime. A sarkari babu called me to his desk. Verified my photo and cancelled my old passport. He did not speak much. He went mute after that. My further attempts at getting more clues about what next went blank. So anyway I moved to the next cabin. It was 4:30 pm. There was a huge crowd in front of this cabin. Apparently all the Talkal cases had to be cleared by passport officer. So if you are applying for a talkal passport you'll have to meet this guy. Anyway not knowing what to do I just waited. Around 6:30 pm, someone from PSK told everyone who was not for Talkal could leave after collecting a slip from the security.

I left at 6:30 pm. I was somewhat annoyed at total mismanagement at the PSK. They could have made it better.

I had applied on 16th July 2012. Status on  passport seva portal on 18th July was -
Passport application has been granted to applicant on 17/07/2012. Your application is under processing. You would receive an email/sms once the passport is dispatched.  

Now there are verious categories of police verification. For some application police verification is done before the passport is issued. For some applicants, passport is issued even before the police verification is done and for some no police verification is done. You can find out type of police verification from the receipt you get at the PSK.

Status on 19th July :
Passport application has been granted to applicant on 18/07/2012. Your application is under processing. You would receive an email/sms once the passport is dispatched.

Status on 20th July:
Passport application has been granted and Police Verification Report has been submitted. You would receive an email/sms once the passport is dispatched.

Status on 20th July evening:
Passport ZXXXXXX has been dispatched on 19/07/2012 via Speed Post. Speed Post Tracking Number is XXXXXXX.

I received my passport on 22nd July or 23rd July.On 29th July I got a call from my local police station. They asked me to come down to the police station with witnesses. Now you have to sign at the police station in presence of witnesses. And that form is sent by passport office to the local police. So you must go and sign it. You can't just pay bribe and get it done. Your signature is must.

Good thing is first I got the passport and then I got call for police verification. If I ignore the inconvenience at PSK due to passport officials, everything went smoothly. I have my passport within one week of applying. Every step of application procedure was traceable.