Without the right connections, even getting a stamp paper from the Islamabad district courts has now turned into a nightmare.
The paper is a requirement for a plethora of official documents and an artificial shortage has allegedly been created by those aiming to profit off black marketing the document.
Instead of selling it for the face value of Rs5 Rs and Rs20 at the city distrcit courts, stamp paper is being for Rs50 to Rs100 from nearby black marketers.
Every day hundreds of people come to the district courts to get documents such as domicile forms, sale deeds, undertaking for school and college certificates, birth and death certificates, marriage certificates (nikahnama), Zakat declarations and various affidavits — all of these now require black market facilitation.
In a survey of the courts to verify the claims, The Express Tribune found stamp paper completely absent from the market in denominations of up to Rs20. At the same time offers were made from stamp vendors off site to buy the same papers with a mark up of 30 per cent to 100 per cent.
“There is not a single stamp paper valued between Rs5 and Rs20... I need them for the undertaking for my educational certificate,” said Hassan Ahmed, a student at Arid Agriculture University. He complained there are no checks and balances on the stamp vendors, most of whom only have stamps available for those willing to pay a premium.
According to Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), over 250 licensed stamp vendors are registered in the city, 50 of whom are stationed at the district courts.
Lawyers requesting not to be named told The Express Tribune that the stamp vendors are working in collusion to rob the public. “In this district court there are some stamp vendors who have been in the business for years. They always try to create artificial shortages and increase their illegal profits,” said one.
“They have a huge stock of stamp papers and are just taking advantage of the AGPR strike to sell them in black,” said another lawyer.
Mohammad Yasir was overcharged while getting his father’s death certificate. “I came in the morning to get stamp paper for a death certificate, but after two hours here, I have not found one person willing to sell it on the face value of Rs50. All of them are demanding Rs80,” he said.
Muhammad Mujahid has been selling stamp paper at the courts for 10 years. He can clear 200 to 250 stamp papers daily, and claimed that the shortage was only due to the AGPR employees strike because it is the issuing authority. Qasier Mukhtar, another stamp vendor, brought up the same issue, however, both vendors refused to talk further when asked about why they were overcharging when the strike has ended.
Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Amir Ali Ahmed assured that he will take stern action against offending vendors. “I will send an inspection team on Monday, and if anyone is found guilty, they will face the music,” he said, adding that part of the problem is that people who are being fleeced don’t complain to the proper authorities, which allows unscrupulous vendors to continue their practices unhindered.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2012.