The process of issuing a passport has become easier, quicker and definitely better with the Ministry of External Affairs deciding to accept police verification after the passport has been issued. It is part of government’s efforts to improve and liberalise police verification procedure for passport issuance. Regional Passport Officer in Pune Atul Gotsurve told The Indian Express that the MEA is not compromising any safety regulation by waiving police verification till after the passport is issued.
The directive is for first – time applicants through normal category. Normal passport applications of all first time applicants furnishing Aadhaar, Electoral Photo Identity Card (EPIC), Permanent Account Number (PAN) and an affidavit will be processed on post – police verification basis, enabling faster issue of passport, without payment of any additional fees.
During January 2014 to December 2014, 1.01 crore applications for passport and related services were processed by the MEA. While 87.03 lakh applications for passport and related services had been received, 84.69 lakh passports and related documents had been issued through the Passport Seva System, Muktesh K Pardeshi, Joint Secretary (PSP) and Chief Passport Officer, MEA was quoted as saying in this report.
During 2014, there was a 15 to 20 percent growth in the issuance of passports compared to 2013. A total of 3,224 official passports and 283 diplomatic passports were issued 2013 through the Passport Seva System, he said. Besides, about 14.95 lakh applications were received at the 183 Missions and Posts abroad and approximately 14.55 lakh passport and related serves were rendered at these Missions and Posts.
During the year 2015, 1.20 crore passport and related services were rendered by Passport Offices in India and the Indian Missions or Posts abroad. There is an increase of 21% over 2014 in the number of services rendered. As on 31st December 2015, approximately 6.33 crores Indians held valid passports.
Till almost six years ago, before the era of Passport Seva Kendras, getting a passport was nothing short of a hassle. The million trips to the passport office, negotiating and re – negotiating with the passport officers and finally giving up and hiring a ‘passport agent’ – the entire process was almost tailored to harangue travellers.
Police verification has been a crucial part of the entire process of getting a passport and stayed that way since its inception. The modalities of police verification have undergone various changes from time to time, whereas the principles have remained the same that is, ascertaining the applicant’s identity, citizenship and absence of criminal antecedents.
Citizens will be granted a fresh passport under the normal category in a week if their applications are accompanied by three documents – copies of Aadhaar card, electoral photo identity card (EPIC) and PAN card – besides an affidavit in the format of Annexure – I (declaration of citizenship, family details and no criminal record).
The MEA has also launched a ‘Passport Police Application’ for speedy submission of police verification report. Apart from this new directive, the government had also announced a five – day appointment window for passport applicants according to which such applicants can “choose” their appointment date.
With the option of choosing your own appointment dates and now by waiving police verification till after the issuance of the passport, the government is attempting to rip through the red tape – never mind cutting.
And it is a welcome change. The new directives also remove the two biggest blockages applicants used to face while applying for a passport.
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