My last and horrible memory of the Indian passport office was when I had to renew my passport in 2006. I had to go for an urgent business trip and my passport was to expire soon, so I had to get to the task immediately. My father is a staunch believer of DIY and warned me to go about the exercise on my own without involving an agent, just like he and I had done it when I applied for my passport the first time. He taught me how to go about the whole process and accompanied me to the passport office to submit my application. But in 2006 he made it very clear that I was on my own. It was a bad experience! I did all the paperwork myself, made the application for Tatkal processing and got the interview date and time. Reached the passport office before the interview time of 10.45 a.m. and was waiting in the serpentine queue upto 3.30 p.m., when I finally got entry to the office. So much for the timing! The sun was at its best that day and we were standing in the direct summer heat. Being a migraine patient I held up for the day knowing fully well that this was way too important. By the time I reached the desk to submit my application it was closing time and the lady there told me to take another appointment. I was livid and blew my top telling her there was no way I would walk out of the office without submitting my application and if she didn’t accept it I would meet the head officer and complain. People around me were shocked at my outburst, but I didn’t care. The lady there had no choice but to accept my application, though she did try to fuss about some documentation; I forced her to take it because everything was in order. I rushed home after that lest I fainted on the way. It was a bad day!
To my utter disgust last week I had to get a Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) issued and I was petrified thinking about my last experience. I requested my father to get me an agent because of the paucity of time to get the PCC. It was very urgent and I hoped that he wouldn’t advise the DIY route again. I was surprised when he told me I should make the application online since everything was online now and there was no necessity to hire an agent. I tried reasoning with him that this was very urgent and I didn’t even have a complete week to get the PCC (ofcourse he already knew all this) but that didn’t deter him from telling me the same thing. Unbelievable, how could he do this to me! I decided to heed to his advice only to prove him wrong and get the agent’s number from him. But! What happened after I searched for the Passport Office site and initiated the process shocked me out of my wits!
First of all it was such an easy-to-navigate site. Freaking easy I’d say! I’ve had a tough time navigating through the Income Tax site but this Passport Seva site was a pleasure to work with. The homepage had everything that you could possibly ask for, with links to all kinds of queries that you would have with respect to passport services. The online PCC application process was under ‘other services’. On clicking the link, the site took me to the e-forms and online forms submission process in simple steps. Totally idiot proof and that’s the way I love it. Jargons only spoil the process. I read through the process carefully and decided to work with the online submission. Mind you, I was still reluctant, but continued for the sake of it; because by now curiosity had totally killed the cat and I was completely taken by the flawless process (still trying to look for some errors to prove my father wrong).
One has to register on the site to submit the application. Existing users can login to the existing account. Once you login you need to go to the submission link.
All you need to do is click on the link of the required service. You need to keep the required information handy – like your personal details, passport details, aadhar card details, family details, two references etc., to speed up the process at your end. Since I chose the online route, I had to click on ‘Alternative 2’ – which took me to the online form directly.
After submitting all the details, you have to make an online payment for the service using your credit/ debit card or online banking, and book the appointment. You can also view your saved/ submitted application here. Once you make the payment, you can print the receipt which also has a copy of your detailed information. So, you can cross-check if you made any errors and correct them.
In case you miss booking the appointment that time, you can make the appointment, using the ‘Schedule Appointment’ link right below the application details. Yes, it’s that simple. The information on that page answers every question that you could possibly have.
The left hand side bar also gives links for a lot of other information: For example, I wanted to know the list of police stations and whether the one close to my house was listed; as also the list of documents required for the appointment. The complete information is at your fingertips!
The bigger surprise was while booking the appointment. I was expecting a much later date, perhaps even after a couple of weeks. But, I got an appointment for the very next day. In fact I had a choice of dates.
The online process got done in a jiffy. But the visit to the Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) was my big worry, because of the previous bad experience. I collected all the required documents and reached the office much before the stipulated time of 10.30 a.m. Before entering the PSK for the enquiry I looked to my right and saw the long queue of people already waiting there. I was disheartened; and was happy that I had eaten breakfast and left home. Again, I was pleasantly surprised when I showed the receipt to the security guard. He checked my details and requested me to go for the body frisking to the lady security guard, post which he ushered me inside the office and told me to stand in the ‘Re-issue’ counter queue. That simple?! Wow!Passport Seva Svcs for Police Clearance Cert - what a delightful experience #PassportSeva #e-Government Click To Tweet
The counter personnel were very efficient and the lines moved smoothly. The gentleman at the counter checked my documents and requested me to have a seat until my name was called out to collect the token number receipt. This process just took about ten minutes. The lady at the other counter called out my name which I heard despite the noise; and I collected the token from her. I was asked to go to the waiting area and go to the required counters which were displayed on the screen. Screens? Really? By now I was totally flummoxed.. pleasantly ofcourse! The security guard at the waiting area door scanned the token receipt and let me in. There was already a big crowd there and I knew it would take a decent time then. At least the waiting area was air-conditioned and there was enough space for everyone; it was also less noisy. There were screens for A and B type of counters, and the token numbers kept changing at great speed, which meant that the processing was being done at a real efficient pace. I was to go to the ‘A’ type counter and suddenly I heard a lady call out ‘P12’. I was surprised to hear that because the screens were already displaying it. But there was a floor walker who was also constantly ensuring that people went to their processing counters immediately.
I reached my counter A23. I had to wait for a minute till the earlier client’s work finished. I wished the lady at the counter ‘good morning’ with a smile, and she smiled and wished me back. Another surprise, because I have usually met grumpy faces at such ‘government-based’ offices! She checked my papers, asked if I was carrying my marriage certificate, which thankfully I was; took my picture using the camera which was stationed there and completed my bio-metric procedures. I paid INR 35 for registering myself for the SMS services. She gave me a receipt and I promptly got a registration message on my handheld. It’s when I was sitting across her that I found that the token receipt had A – B – C written on top, which meant that one had to move from counters A to B to C!
A – Processing
B – Verification
C – Granting
I smoothly moved from one type of counter to another and in a matter of 25 minutes (since Counter C was a bit slow), completed the entire process. The person at Counter C advised me to go to section D – which I realised was the Exit counter where the lady would give me the receipt that I would need for collecting the PCC when it was ready. I was amazed to be out of that office by 11.30 a.m. What a breeze! At the exit counter I enquired what the process would be and how many days it would take from thereon. The lady advised that the cops would come home for the verification and that I would have to go visit the police station with my documents and I would get the PCC in 3 – 4 days.
I got all the alerts on email as well as SMS. The information said that it would take about 3 weeks, so I wondered whether the information given to me by the lady at the exit counter was correct. I made a mental note of telling my father to pull strings at the cop station to ensure that they moved quickly. But the efficiency of the process surprised me again. A havaldar visited my house the next day and handed over the paper detailing the required documents that I would need to carry to the station. He advised not to visit the station the same day as they would be busy with some bandobast. At that time, dad walked towards the door and the havaldar saluted him. Man, my father had the clout which he forever refused to use. I knew he knew most of the chowki Inspectors well, but he would never ask them for favours.
Dad and I went to the police chowki the next morning (albeit just before the closing time written on the piece of paper with the details). Being a Sunday, we had to look for a photocopy machine. We were lucky to find one and we reached the chowki at 12.50 p.m. – just 10 minutes before closing time. Luckily, the police in charge came back to his desk in five minutes and gestured us to sit. He scrutinised every document properly and helped me with the formalities. He kept a set of photocopies for the police records and made me sign against my picture on their register and pat we were done! Since he engaged us in discussion and asked me many questions it took us about 20 minutes, and dad and I walked out happily.
The whole process was so smooth that it induced me to write this post. I have no doubt that I will get the SMS alert for collecting the PCC in a day or two maximum. Hats off to the new online Passport Seva services!