"he failed to keep the document in a safe place"
An Indian man was fined Rs. 5,000 (£52) when applying for a replacement passport after telling officials that rats ate his passport.
Officials stated that the Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh resident was fined for his carelessness when looking after the passport.
Regional Passport Officer (RPO) Rashmi Baghel explained that all passport holders must take care of it when it is issued.
She said: “It is, after all, government property. If someone applies for a fresh passport in the ‘damaged’ category, they have to pay a fine, along with the usual fee.
“In this case, a few pages of the passport had been completely gnawed away.
“He confessed that the passport was lying among his books and that his house was rat-infested.
“So he had to pay a fine of Rs. 5,000 for damage to government property as he failed to keep the document in a safe place where it won’t come to any harm.”
Ms Baghel said that such instances where entire pages are missing is rare but it does happen.
“A few months ago, another man came to us with his passport in tatters.
“He said he forgot to take it out of his pocket after travel when he dumped all his clothes in the washing machine.
“A passport is a serious document and should not be taken casually. The man whose passport got washed also had to pay a heavy fine as most of the pages went missing and there was serious damage to the front and back pages.”
The matter is so serious that if someone applies for a new passport under the ‘damaged’ category more than once, they may be treated as a repeat offender and may be refused a new passport.
On the matter, Ms Baghel told the Times of India:
“Damage from water spill and ink stains are common. We get a lot of these cases and we understand that mishaps happen.
“But cases where pages go missing are very serious as the applicant may be involved in some illegal activity.”
“So if the RPO finds that a person has applied for a fresh passport under the ‘damaged’ category more than once, it can turn down the request because that person is not capable of taking care of a government document.”
Although the case of the Indian man claiming that his passport was gnawed by rats may sound strange, it is, in fact, a serious matter because RPOs can refuse a new passport being issued.