To ensure a paperless passport office from July, 2,365 pending cases were cleared in the lok adalat organised here on Friday. More than 3,400 people were called in person to the Lok Adalat and 2,897 tokens were issued. Long queues of people wanting to get their passports back were witnessed.
Kishan Singh, 54, a resident of Bharuwal village in Phillaur received back his passport after nine years.
“In 2004, my request for the renewal of my passport was denied on the grounds that I has been deported back to India on an emergency certificate. This was a false claim as somebody else had given my details and fabricated his passport and used it to get back. However, no one believed me and it is now, after nine years that my passport has been renewed."
Passport officer Harambir Singh Gill told HT that there were a number of such cases and knowing the genuine difficulties of such passportholders, he took up the matter with various embassies and missions.
“A mail was issued to them containing details about the emergency certificates issued by them and we asked them to convey us their objections if any in re-issuing fresh passports. It clicked and we started getting replies. Finally, many such cases were cleared. In the case of Kishan Singh, when we called him, he told us that he never used a thumb impression. The impression on the energency certificate and his thumb impression did not match. This was a clear case of misuse of particulars. We have written to the ministry of external affairs."
Similar was the case of Manjit Singh, a resident of Raiwal village, near Nakodar. “After 13 years, I got back my passport. It appears to be a dream-come true for me. In the previous 13 years, I have made several submissions to the office but was denied every time. I returned in 2001 on emergency certificate as my stay was extended in Dubai where I went on tourist visa,” he said.
“We have tried to clear all deported cases, Mission Reference Group (MRG) cases and cases referred by Passport Seva Kendras in Friday's attempt. Now only those cases are pending with us, which failed to appear on Friday, due to one reason or the other,” the passport officer added. “We have also imposed penalties of Rs 8.50 lakh in different cases and collected Rs 3 lakh as fine,” he added.
“With the clearance of pending cases, we will soon turn into paperless office as all fresh work is being done in digital form on the system provided by Tata Consultancy Services,” Gill said.