The unbearable burden of proof

Red Tape

The unbearable  burden of proof

Anyone who has applied for a phone or gas connection knows that it isn’t always easy to find the necessary documents to prove their place of residence.

Students, in particular, have a tough time. Those who live in hostels or paying-guest accommodation rarely have anything concrete to prove that they stay there. Although some hostels do provide them with letters, stating that they reside in the college premises, not all bodies accept these. And the owners of paying-guest accommodations — often in the interest of evading taxes — rarely give their tenants anything of the sort.

Most often, this problem crops up when students try to apply for a mobile phone connection. Although those who opt for a prepaid connection can sometimes get away without showing address proof — depending on where they pick up the SIM card — those who want a postpaid plan don’t have that option.

Akshay, a student of Jain University who lives in the college hostel, didn’t have a bad time of it because his permanent residence is in Bangalore. “I provided the proof of residence for that address to get a mobile phone connection. Students from out of town generally ask the college for a letter, stating that they live in the hostel, which most service providers accept,” he explains. 

But this procedure isn’t as simple as one would assume. Sambandh Rana, a student of Acharya Institute of Management and Sciences, agrees that proving one’s place of residence can be a pain — including when it comes to getting an internet connection.

“Staying in a hostel, one of the more difficult things to get done is getting a proof of local residence for anything — whether it is a SIM card or an internet connection. The procedure itself is so long; we have to get several letters from the college principal, as well as acknowledgement letters signed and stamped by the concerned authorities in college. This takes anywhere from four days to two weeks, which can be really frustrating,” he adds.

But while a letter from the college management might suffice for a phone connection, the same isn’t the case for other important documents — applying for a passport, for instance. Kanika, a software engineer who relocated to the City to pursue her degree, recalls having a terrible time when she wanted to get her passport renewed. “I am from Nagpur, but came to Bangalore to study.

However, I stayed in a paying-guest accommodation here and predictably, didn’t have the necessary documents to take with me to the office. I tried explaining my predicament to the passport officials as well as my landlady, but both saw no way around it. Eventually, I had to take time off from college and go back to Nagpur to have it renewed,” she describes, going on to add that with the delays in verification, it was quite a hassle.

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