Students benefit from reduced fines at RPO
Regional Passport Office slashes fine for incorrect address details by 90 per cent for outstation students; those who wish to go abroad for courses or jobs will benefit from this deduction
For outstation students in the city who hope to go abroad for further education or job opportunities, the Regional Passport Office (RPO) has just made the process friendlier and less expensive by drastically reducing fines for incorrect address details.
Outstation students applying for a passport often have trouble producing address details and proof, a complication which used to cost them a fine of Rs 5,000 each time. Since Monday however, the RPO has slashed the fine by 90 per cent, reducing it to Rs 500.
The RPO in Pune is the only centre to have reduced the fine for outstation students. File Pic
Pune is the first city in the country where the penalty has been reduced for students. The move has been made especially to benefit outstation students who are unable to produce adequate proof of residence in the city. Students, who opt to reside in private accommodation, often do so on room-share or cot-share basis. While it is an economical option, there are no rent agreements or any other official documents that could work as proof of residence.
Regional Passport Officer Atul Gotsurve has appealed to the Ministry of External Affairs to reduce the fine for outstation students from Rs 5,000 to Rs 500. Pic/Mohan Patil
According to the passport office, a majority of outstation students in the city who apply for passports have to bear heavy financial penalty for the same reason. The advisory issued by the passport department clearly states that students studying away from their hometown should provide their current address and proof of residence in their applications.
Students living in college accommodation can provide a letter from the principal or warden, while those living with guardians can provide the guardian’s proof of residence, along with a guardianship affidavit. Those living in private accommodation are required to provide rent agreements as proof of address. All applicants are required to provide proof of their permanent residence. Applicants also have to mention addresses for all their places of residence in the past year leading up to the application.
Pune, which receives students from all over the country, has a particularly large number of outstation passport applicants. On an average, the Pune RPO receives 4,375 fresh passport applications under general category in a week, and over 500 applications under tatkal. Of these, 15 per cent are outstation student applications.
Speaking to mid-day, Regional Passport Officer Atul Gotsurve said, “Outstation students who don’t find accommodation in college hostels have to rent shared apartments. Asking these students to pay exorbitant fines is unrealistic.”
“I have appealed to the ministry of external affairs to exempt outstation students and fine them Rs 500 instead, as their intention is not to suppress any data,” he added. He emphasised however, that the students were still required to provide all details and proof of their address.
Vinita Deshmukh, RTI activist and convenor of the passport grievance forum, appreciated the step taken by the RPO and said, “It will be a boon for outstation college students who have to face lot of hardship as they are unable to provide details of their address. This decision will come as a ray of hope for thousands of students who are aspiring to go abroad for further studies.”
The average number of passport applications under general category
According to the Passport Act 1967, applicants who furnish any false information or suppress any material information with a view to obtaining a passport or travel document under this Act have to pay a fine of Rs 5,000.
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