Return of Rs. 1000/- by the regional passport office of Chennai
In interesting case of use of Right to Information (RTI) Act by an indidual for recovering an amount of Rs. 1000/- from the regional passport office (RPO) of Chennai has been reported.
S V Elumalaiyan, a resident of Vellore, submitted an application for passport along with the stipulated demand draft for 1,000/- at the regional passport office at Shastri Bhavan in Chennai on January 30, 0029. On receiving a communication that the DD submitted by him has "lost its validity", he sent a fresh DD on September 15 as per the directions.
Even though the new DD was submitted, the older one was not returned back by the passport office despite several representations through fax and email. Elumalaiyan then resorted to the RTI route to know the status of the first DD and filed an application under the RTI Act. The passport office informed him that the invalid DD could not be traced in spite of their strenuous efforts. Surprisingly, when he approached the bank to know about the "untraceable" DD, he was informed that the said DD had been encashed and deposited in the account of the regional passport office. This prompted Elumalaiyan to ask the regional passport office in November 2011 to refund the amount which had been encashed. While the RPO accepted the evidence submitted by him to substantiate his claim, his request for refund remained unanswered.
Elumalaiyan then moved the South Chennai district consumer disputes redressal forum. The RPO contended that as Elumalaiyan had failed to provide the serial number of the DD, they could not act in the matter. The bench comprising president D Krishnaraja and members L Deenadayalan and K Amala observed that Elumaliayan had informed the RPO about the details of the DD twice and this fact had been suppressed before the forum. The forum directed the RPO to refund the amount with 9% interest along with 5,000 as case costs for the deficiency in service.
Five years after the submission of the passport application form, Elumalaiyan gets back his money and is richer by another Rs. 5000/- in lieu of the pains suffered by him.