“Despite promise of online service, officials resort to offline procedure to fetch easy money”
Braving the scare of prevailing corona pandemic, gullible public in Jammu and Kashmir have been forced to throng Tehsil offices to get their domicile certificates, which was otherwise promised to be an online service.
According to an aggrieved, the administration in Jammu and Kashmir is in a state of confusion since August 2019 and this situation has further aggravated with the lockdown induced by corona pandemic.
“On one side the administration talks about social distancing and strict lockdown, whereas on the other side, they are pushing people to throng Tehsil offices to get Domicile certificates,” said Rajinder Jasrotia, a resident of Tehsil Domana, adding that the much hyped e-service for applying for domicile certificate is almost defunct.
Jasrotia stated that it appears the online system of getting a domicile certificate is intentionally terminated in order to provide a space to the revenue department to run their monopoly over gullible public.
“It has been witnessed at Tehsil offices that when people approach revenue department to get their certificate, in absence of online service, they have to endure harassment at many places in the name of proof and other documents,” said Jasrotia, adding that thronging already crowded Tehsil offices make the public more vulnerable to virus.
Talking to The Typewriter, an official from the office of Deputy Commissioner Jammu, claimed that owing to wrong policies of the people at helm of affairs, some staff members have also tested corona positive.
“By discontinuing online services, due to unknown reasons, the administration has made all vulnerable. It is believed that the contamination of the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Jammu is due to the huge number of people visiting tehsil offices for domicile certificates,” said the official, wishing anonymity.
Meanwhile, a few days back, Mandal Tehsil witnessed a strong protest demonstration against alleged undue delay in issuing domicile certificates. The agitating youth accused the incumbent tehsildhar for allegedly demanding money in lieu of making certificates in a time bound manner.
“The officials have made it a side business of earning easy money. First of all, they switched to offline mode, instead of online as promised at its launch and now they are creating unnecessary delays in issuing certificates,” said Raja, adding that they are doing this despite fetching Rs 500 to Rs 1000 per certificate.
He asserted that most of the people in their tehsil are not technology savvy and the low speed internet compounded their problems, so they mostly depend upon tehsil officials for doing the needful formalities, but instead of providing free service, the public is being charged.
However, after allegations of “extorting money” from the poor people in the name of issuing domicile certificates, the administration transferred a tehsildar. Principal Secretary, Revenue Department, Pawan Kotwal transferred tehsildar, Mandal of Jammu district, and attached him with the Divisional Commissioner Jammu’s office.
Earlier also, elected representatives of Urban Local Bodies held a protest at Samba against alleged black marketing of domicile forms.
“The administration is on a mission to loot the public in the name of domicile certificate. They snapped internet speed and asked public to apply for domicile certificates online, which was mockery of the system and now they have altogether shifted to offline mode to earn money from this service,” said an applicant from Samba, adding that on one side, the administration is issuing directions for public to observe social distancing and on the same side they are pushing them to visit crowded offices, thus making them vulnerable to the Corona.
He further maintained that the basic aim which appears behind switching to offline mode instead of online service is easy money that they are fetching from each candidate.
“If government was seriously working for the welfare of public they would have deployed designated officers at Tehsil level to verify and transfer existing PRCs into domicile certificates, which would have saved common public to face hardships in this pandemic,” he quipped, adding that the government is promoting corruption by giving free hand to revenue department without any check.
An applicant from Anantnag district of Kashmir stated that influential people, even from outside J&K are getting domicile certificates without much problems, but locals, who are already in possession of PRCs, are pushed from pillar to post.
“I am in possession of PRC from last 45 years, but when I tried to approach concerned tehsil office to get my domicile certificate, I was bombarded with volley of irrelevant questions,” said Aamir Nazir, adding that this has become another nuisance for the public, especially elder ones.
It is pertinent to mention that Lieutenant Governor, Girish Chandra Murmu on June 22 launched e-application-cum-issuance of domicile certificate, developed by Jammu and Kashmir e-Governance Agency (JaKeGA), at the Raj Bhavan.
It was claimed that with the launch of this service, the count of the Government to Citizen (G2C) online services reached 27. It is an addition to the UT administration’s e-governance initiatives to speed up the public delivery mechanism through minimal human intervention, besides ensuring efficiency, transparency, and reliability of such services.
It was also claimed that the PRC holders and other applicants can apply for the issuance of a domicile certificate online by providing Aadhaar number and receive the certificate through online mode. PRC holders will be able to receive their domicile certificate through this application without visiting any office, but everything is reversed.
The new domicile law was brought with the abrogation of Article 370 last year. Under this law, the domicile has been defined as those who have resided for a period of 15 years in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir or have studied for a period of seven years and appeared in Class 10-12 examination in educational institutions located in J&K.
The domicile also include children of those central government officials, all India services officers, officials of public sector undertaking and autonomous body of the central government, public sector banks, officials of statutory bodies, officials of central universities and recognised research institutes of the central government who have served in J&K for a total period of ten years.
The law has empowered Tehsildars within their territorial jurisdiction to issue domicile certificates. The government of J&K UT has also been empowered to notify any other officer to be the competent authority for the issuance of a domicile certificate.
When contacted Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Sanjeev Verma he sought query via text message but did not reply back, till this story was filed.