The ministry of external affairs has announced two major changes that will fasttrack the process for first-time passport applicants as well as make it more convenient to secure an appointment at local passport seva kendras.
Citizens will be granted a fresh passport under the normal category in as little as 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). Until now, the process would take a month, with the police verification eating up a lot of time.
Now, police verification of such applications will be conducted after the passport is issued. Such a process was earlier reserved only for Tatkal.
There will be no extra charge for the service that has been introduced to cut the waiting time for passports, a statement issued by the ministry said. The process is subject to online validation of the Aadhaar number at the time of processing and an approval from the granting officer. In addition, EPIC and PAN cards may also be validated, if required, through respective databases in real time, before the application is approved. Besides, passports may also be impounded and revoked later, in case of adverse police reports.
The idea of the upgrade is to liberalise the process without compromising on security , explained Anil Kumar Sobti, director of the passport division in the ministry. “There are plenty of inbuilt safeguards in our system which can instantly spot fake identities and forgeries.Most importantly , our system is linked to the Aadhaar database which helps conduct real-time verification of the applicant while he she is still at the passport seva kendra,“ he said.
“We are trying to integrate EPIC and PAN cards as well. Additionally , the granting officer interviewing the applicant can use his discretion to extend or withhold the facility .
“Besides, the option of impounding or revoking the passport post issuance is always available and we have exercised it several times in 2015,“ Sobti said.
Hailing the change as an applicant-friendly initiative, Pune’s regional passport officer Atul Gotsurve said, “A smooth rollout of the facility hinges on accurate and complete documentation furnished by the applicant.
“Adverse police reports can be avoided if applicants themselves play a pro-active role in their verification to ensure that it is completed within a month since the passport is issued. We will also institutionalise measures to prevent an increase in such cases.“
Source: Times of India 28th Jan/2016