Day before yesterday (22nd June, 2016) my driving licence (along with many other cards and quite a lot of cash, but that’s another story) was stolen.
The website told me, I needed to get a notarised statement to the effect that I’d lost the licence, along with three photographs, and go to the Regional Transport Office (RTO) where it had been issued, and submit my application.
I started off with a visit to the photo shop (not Photoshop!) to get my passport photos. It took about half an hour and some extra charges, but I got 16 photos (Rs.120) at once.
I then started the procedure for the First Information Report (FIR) that my friends told me, had to be lodged and a copy taken to be submitted. First I went to J P Nagar Police Station, as I live in J P Nagar. When I explained that it was stolen on a bus from Richmond Circle to MICO Layout Check post, I was told that a) my Police Station was MICO Layout Police Station and b) because of the route of the bus, I had to go to Tilak Nagar Police Station.
When I went to the second police station, the inspector gave me a form to fill up. However, after seeing what I wrote as the stop I got off (MICO Layout Checkpost), he said that was not his jurisdiction, and that I should go to MICO Layout Police Station. I told him that it must have been stolen before I reached that stop, he asked me to change the name of the stop, and told me that he would only give me an "acknowledgement", and not an FIR (which could only be lodged, he said, at the MICO Layout Police Station.) However, he said it would be enough. Then he told me to take a "xerox" (photocopy) and get it back to him; the copier in the police station, he said, was not working.
Part 2C.I went out, and spent about 20 minutes hunting unsuccessfully for a photocopy shop. Could the inspector not just give me another form to fill up? No, he would not. Seeing me looking crestfallen, a constable outside took the paper, went off on his motorcycle and returned with the "xerox"! That was as helpful as the inspector was obstructive. I finally got the required "acknowledgement".
By this time, was about 3pm. I then went to the Sub-Registrar's Office near the Jayanagar RTO (which is in the same building as the Jayanagar Bus Terminus) to get this notarized affidavit, because I've often seen many lawyers who notaries public, in that small lane.
I asked around, and the standard charges for such a notarised statement on stamp paper of Rs.20 were Rs.200. So I chose a notary's office which had chairs to sit on.
Some time ago, just as a precaution, I'd made photocopies of most of the documents that I'd lost. (Some others, added later, were, alas, without photocopies..but luckily, I think they'll be replaced nevertheless.) I thought that a notarised statement should certainly mention the driving licence number, issuing date, and so on.
But to my surprise, the man who answered my query, asked me to write just my name and address. He told me that getting the stamp paper would take some time (every notary said the same thing) and told me to return after half an hour.
I came back after half an hour (more like forty minutes, wandering around Jayangar Shopping Complex) and it wasn't yet done. I told the man I had to go to fetch a child, and he immediately did it in about five minutes! I told him, at this point, to include the details of the driving licence, and he did.
Armed with what I thought were the required documents, and having written a letter stating (for the third time) that I'd lost my DL, I went to the RTO. There, I heard the words every government employee is taught to say to the public whenever it's possible. "nALe banni" (come tomorrow) said he. "We don't give out forms after 1pm." When the office works till 5 or 5.30pm, why were the forms only available till 1pm? No answer. "Come at 10.30am," he said again. Accepting defeat, I returned home.
This morning, by 10.30am, I was standing in front of the enquiry desk. "Duplicate DL? Go to the DL/LL (Learners Licence) section," was the response. Meanwhile, I'd seen a notice that said, "Senior Citizens can go directly to the Assistant Regional Transport (ART) manager." Thinking this might save time, I parked my daughter in the queue before ART manager's door, and went to see if I could submit it on my own. My daughter, in the queue, was shunted to 3 different places, and she gave up as she had her own work to do (converting her American driving licence to an Indian one.)
At the DL/LL section, I was told, "Go to the Inward Section." This was at the very end of a long corridor, so I went there and fought the crowd to ask the lady what I should do. She took my documents, and asked, "Where is the driving licence?" I blinked, and then told her, that was what I had lost. "Then where is the 'xerox' copy of the licence?" she asked. It was just sheer good luck that I had a photocopy. "Without this, we won't entertain the application," said the lady. I asked her whether everyone would take the precaution of making photocopies of the licence, and what would happen if they didn't. "Then we can't take the application," was the extremely unhelpful answer. If I haven't taken a xerox, I can't get a duplicate DL? What nonsense is that! Another example of our beautiful red tape.
She then wrote down the charges that had to be paid, which was Rs.200. I paid this at the cash counter (just across from the lady, thankfully) and went all the way back to the enquiry counter, where I was told to buy a stamped cover. The cover, with stamps for Rs.17, cost me Rs.25.
I was told to go back to the lady in the Inward section, so back I walked down the pasage. She then told me to go to the Photo section. I dug out my three photographs and found a huge queue there. At this point I decided to invoke the Senior Citizen rule. When I said I was a senior citizen, the person at the door asked me, "Where is your Senior Citizen card?" I told him, that was lost along with the DL! "Go to the back of the queue then!" he said. I resorted to a sad and tired look. "You can very well see I am a senior citizen, card or no card," I said. "Please don't send me to the back of the queue, I can't stand!" Luckily, the two young girls at the head of the queue were very friendly, and they said, "Madam, please stand here." So I did that, and got my photograph taken, and my left thumbprint taken. There was a charge of Rs.50. The photographs I'd brought? They were never used.
Back I went, down the corridor, to the lady in the Inward Department. Reluctantly, she realised that she could not find fault with any of my documentation, and having taken my application, gave me a receipt, which I must carry in lieu of my driving licence until it arrives at my address via SpeedPost in the Fullness of Time. The website mentions that the person should pick up the licence at the RTO. That is wrong. For more than 2 years now, the licences are sent by SpeedPost.
I couldn’t believe that my work on the DL front was done. What? No more negotiating the crowds? No more running up and down the corridor? It finally sank in, and off I went to attend to the next process…..
So, dear reader, if you lose your Indian Driving Licence..don’t take those 3 photos that the website talks about. You can skip Part 1, and get the other parts done, hopefully with less running around than I had!