Rahul Mishra at his home in a Dahisar slum
Rahul Mishra finally has a reason to smile. After the 23-year-old TCS employee was denied police verification for his passport because he lives in a slum, cops visited Mishra’s home on Sunday, November 13, to verify his documents and now the passport department is reviewing his request. mid-day had highlighted the harassment Mishra faced at the hands of the same cops in a report on November 8.
Rahul Mishra has all the identity proofs required for acquiring a passport
“I will always be thankful to mid-day for highlighting the issue. Despite repeated pleas, the police did not agree to clear my verification, as I am a slum dweller. Also, I work for a company that spends a month just doing a background check on its employees. My only mistake was residing in a slum,” said Mishra. The Borivli resident had been struggling to clear the police verification process for the last four months, but the adamant MHB Colony police station was not ready to do it as he resides in a slum.
He had gotten an opportunity to go abroad in July but due to the ignorance of the police, he lost it. “I have been pleading with them to verify my documents. If the passport department had any issue, they wouldn’t have cleared my application and sent it for police verification. But now finally, they came to my shanty for the first time and verified all the documents. It is now being reviewed by the passport department and soon, I would get the passport,” he added.
Earlier, even without verifying his residence, cops submitted their remark saying that they couldn’t clear his verification due to lack of documents. Mishra had all the required documents. mid-day is in possession of photographs of all the documents. Mishra had been running from pillar to post since June to get his passport. Despite having all the required documents like Aadhar card, Voter ID card, bank statements and PAN card, his request for police verification was declined. Cops refused to issue the verification certificate as Mishra resides in the notorious Ganpat Patil Nagar slum.
Violation of rules
When mid-day had previously spoken to Suyog Kamble, public regional officer of the police station responsible for the verification, he stated they don’t issue passports to the slum dwellers as they reside on illegal land. However, his argument was in direct violation of the passport department’s rules, which state that any Indian is eligible for procuring a passport if s/he holds any document of identity proof.
As per norms, the police, while submitting their verification certificate, need to just mention that the applicant resides on a disputed land, but does not have a criminal record. Following this, the passport department issues the passport. When mid-day asked Kamble about the process, he confirmed it and stated that this time, he has followed the rules and submitted the verification certificate.
Cops cannot interfere
“We don’t differentiate between any applicant depending on his place of residence. We give passports to any applicant who has any document of identity proof. Police cannot interfere in the process of the passport department. Their role is to confirm the residential address submitted to us and verify if the person has any criminal record. They are not to decide whether to give the passport to any slum dwellers,” said a senior officer from the passport office.
Hemant Ingle, advocate High Court said, “This is arbitrary as it not only violates human rights under our constitution but also violates the Passport Act. In any event, the police don’t hold the rights to decide if a person should be given a passport or not. Their job is to check the criminal activity and contents of the documents given.”
Number of months Rahul’s passport was stuck in the police verification stage