By Ashok Kumar
Sydney 18 October, 2016
Many skeletons have surfaced from the cupboard of the Consulate General of India, Sydney. Close on the heels of penalty by the Workers Commission Court regarding the case of unfair dismissal of an employee, The Indian Sub-continent Times, has in its possession, documents that reveal some wrong doings in the Consulate.
Among the several issues the documents revealed, was one connected to an order issued by the Indian Consulate in Sydney in the last few years regarding attestation and apostle of power of attorney documents from Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The rule hitherto was that if a permanent resident required attestation of power of attorney documents, he/she could get them attested by just using the services of a Justice of Peace (JP). The Indian Australian citizens required to get attestation done by DFAT by paying a fee. But the rule was changed by the Consulate General of India in Sydney in 2014. The Consulate in Sydney looks after work of consulates in South Australia and Queensland hence, affecting a large number of Permanent Residents.
This resulted in financial loss to several Permanent Residents holding Indian Passports and living in New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland as that rule applied only to those Indians who were Citizens of Australia or foreign nationals.
An individual, who was not sure of the correct procedure after the change was effected, lodged an RTI enquiry with the High Commissioner on 1.2.2015. The Principal Information Officer, HCI, Canberra clarified in his reply of 20.2.2015 that there had been no change in procedure since 15.7.2014 the Indian passport holders only were required to get documents attested by a JP. The person paid $ 60 + $ 90 for attestation of the documents in addition to four days of leave from work. And, everyday nearly 10 to 15 people required attestation and by that calculation nearly $ 500,000 loss was incurred by the Indian citizens for no fault. This includes Permanent residents living in South Australia and Queensland. The rule was withdrawn just before Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Australia. The caption id=”attachment_4236″ align=”alignleft” width=”260″] HCI, Canberra[/caption] changed rule was effective for four months.
The question that rings in the mind is that why the rule was changed that caused unnecessary harassment to people?
This was an unlawful loss for the Indian Passport holders and H.E Mr. N.S. Suri , the High Commissioner of India in Australia must get this illegal act of Sydney Consulate officers inquired into and responsibility fixed for implementation of wrong procedure causing harassment. It may not be out of place to mention that no other Consulate implemented the change of rule. In all probability, the Consulate should apart from fixing the responsibility, defray the money that the gullible Indian passport holders were forced to pay as a result of the ‘illegal’ change of rule.
Multiple Passports: Another case reveals possession of four different passports by same person under different names and one was issued by Indian Consulate in Sydney. And, the person is working in security at the Sydney airport. The Consulate in Sydney had already been in the news for issuing or renewing passport of notorious gangster Chhota Rajan alias Mohan Kumar who was residing in Newcastle/Sydney (The IST is in possession of related documents.)
A complaint had been filed in this regard and a CAG enquiry was initiated. The Regional Passport Officer (RPO), in Delhi clarified during the inquiry that the individual was first issued passport A1401634 0n 6/8/1996 that was lost and a replacement passport was issued A6212638 on 14/09/1996 another passport A6390677 was issued when the individual provided different particulars such as name, date and place of birth and different name of parents. The fourth passport was issued or renewed by the Sydney consulate.
The RPO advised that action has been initiated in this regard in the form of a show-cause notice and proceeding launched to impound the passports.
The complicity of consulate staff is revealed by the fact that Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) was issued to the person concerned despite the knowledge of four passports but then cancelled after the CAG report highlighted the issue. However, as per e mails exchanged between the individual and Consulate staff, it was revealed that the individual was called to the Consulate and supposedly a fresh PCC was dispatched again. The PCC is an important document to obtain permanent residency or citizenship. The Consulate has, reportedly, so far not revoked or impounded the said passports.
The third case was about a civil matter that was made complex by the Consulate staff. A person’s passport was revoked by authorities in Ghaziabad, UP, but the person continued to live in Sydney. The couple involved had a civil case running in Australian court. The case was decided in favour of the lady. The IST had reported the matter in June 2016.
After the passport of Mr. Rajnesh Koul was revoked, the Consulate staff failed to inform the Department of Immigration and Border Protection about it. His ex-wife Parul knocked several times at the Consulate’s door but in vain. However, the court ordered on 7 June 2016 Mr. Koul to pay Ms. Parul cost of travel and incidentals. The question remains why did the Consulate not inform the Immigration about the revocation? And, they are reportedly yet to do so. It may be mentioned here that Ms. Parul pursued the case on her own and without any money and legal help setting an example for other women of the sub-continent.
An email was sent to the Consulate General’s office on 26th August along with a reminder on 11th September for his views and comments but there was no response till the time of going to press.
However, it may be noted that this report is related to the previous Consul Generals and the current Consul General enjoys a good reputation and respect from the Indian community in Sydney.