In his post on October 15, 2013, my guest had described how he found that he could have obtained a PCC (Police Clearance Certificate) from the Passport Seva Kendra (Passport Office) without having to depend on a “Passport Agent”. Today, he describes the events leading to his obtaining his visa without having to engage a tout or pay any bribe at any point in the entire process.
Along with my visa application, I had to submit the PCC and 3 affidavits, all duly notarized, attested by the Secretariat in the city in which the embassy was located. One affidavit was to be signed by me, the second by the Notary Public and the third by my parents (since I am single).
After the bad experience with the “Passport Agent”, I had decided that I would do everything myself. When I telephoned the Secretariat (in the city in which the embassy was located), they told me that the documents should be notarized in my home city, attested by the Home Ministry in my home state and then submitted to them (the Secretariat) for attestation. I asked about the procedure and the time frame, and was told that the documents could be submitted on any working day between 10 am and 11 am, and collected the same afternoon.
I telephoned a Notary Public near my house, who informed me that he would notarize the PCC, sign and notarize the affidavit to be issued by him, and also notarize the other two affidavits (one to be signed by me, the other by my parents). His only condition was that my parents and I should sign our respective affidavits in his presence. He readily told me his charges and said that we could meet him on any working day with an hour’s notice. I checked with another Notary Public and found that he quoted the same charges as the Notary Public near my house. I now knew that the notarization of documents could be done easily.
Then, I telephoned the Home Ministry in my home city (fortunately the state capital), explained my requirement and asked where and when the documents should be submitted for attestation, the fees and mode of payment and the time needed for attestation. I was told, “Come here. We’ll tell you everything after seeing the documents.” When I politely insisted that they give some information over the phone, the person said: “It should take anywhere between 10 and 40 days, could be more. We can tell you about the fees only after seeing the documents.” It was clear they wanted to know how much money they could extract from me. I was faced with a choice: either I could pay a bribe and get my documents attested or the Home Ministry would send me on a wild goose chase, which meant I would have to spend time there (instead of on my work) and they could take much more than 40 days. I didn’t want to pay a bribe, and I couldn’t stay in my home city for more than a couple of days since I had to be at the site of our ongoing project in the other city.
I telephoned the embassy, told them that it was almost impossible to get my documents attested at my home state Home Ministry, which meant the Secretariat (in the city in which the embassy was located) would not attest the documents. I requested them to treat my case as a special case (since I needed a Work Visa even though I would be in their country for only a short project, not for long-term employment) and accept my documents without an attestation from the Secretariat. They told me that it would be very difficult, and suggested that I should try and find out from the Secretariat whether there was any way my home state Home Ministry’s attestation could be waived.
Since my father had earlier lived in the city in which the embassy was located, he was fluent in the local language of that city. He told me that, if he spoke with the Secretariat official in that language, the ‘language bonding’ would most probably make a difference. He telephoned the Secretariat and managed to speak with the officer in charge of the section that did the attestation of documents. He explained the situation to the officer, and requested him to suggest how my documents could be attested without the prior attestation of my home state’s Home Ministry. The officer finally said, “If he gets the documents notarized in this city, we will attest it. This is not a regular procedure, but we’ll do it only this one time.” Obviously, ‘language bonding’ had worked!
Now, I was faced with a new task – that of finding a notary public in that city who would sign the documents which were prepared in my home city (on stamp paper issued in my home state). As I had mentioned earlier, the embassy (and the Secretariat) were located in the same city as our ongoing project. I tried to find a Notary Public who would sign my documents. Every Notary Public whom I called said he could not notarize documents prepared on another state’s stamp paper. Finally, after a week, and about 15 Notary Publics later, I met an elderly Notary Public, who was so impressed that I was going through all this trouble to avoid using a tout that she agreed to notarize all my documents, except the affidavit signed by my parents since she could notarize that affidavit only if my parents had signed it in her presence. She even refused to take any fee, saying she usually dealt with people who had property issues, while I was a youngster who was going abroad for a short project.
I telephoned the embassy, explained that I could get all documents attested except the affidavit signed by my parents. They agreed to accept that affidavit without the attestation.
A couple of days later, I submitted the notarized documents to the Secretariat at 10.30 am and collected the attested documents at 4.00 pm the same day.
A week later, I visited the embassy, submitted my visa application along with the documents, attended a short interview, and got my visa.
I must admit I had many things working in my favour like the embassy (and the Secretariat) being located in the same city as the ongoing project that I was in charge of, my father being fluent in the local language of that city, me finding the helpful Notary Public, and the embassy agreeing to accept my parents’ affidavit without the attestation. Maybe if any one of these things did not work, I would have ended up paying a bribe. But I am happy that I didn’t give up at any of the points when I came across a seemingly insurmountable obstacle.
The moral of the story for me was that it is very easy to get most of your work done by paying bribes and much tougher to hold on to your principles. But, I think each person must try to get work done the correct way. Then, like me, they may find that “Fortune favours the ethical!”