This post was originally published on 31 January 2016.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs has announced major changes that will fast-track the process for first-time passport applicants and make it more convenient to secure an appointment at the local Passport Seva Kendra.
Citizens will be granted a fresh passport under the normal category in a week if their applications are accompanied by four documents – copies of Aadhaar card, electoral photo identity card (EPIC), PAN card and 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. There will be no extra charge for the service, a statement issued by the ministry said.
In a series of tweets, External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj reformed policies pertaining to the passport and it’s police verification. Now, getting the passport is going to take less than a week as police verification will be done after you get the passport and not before.
Sushma Swaraj tweeted, “If you submit an application with copies of Aadhar, Voter ID and PAN Card with an affidavit of no criminal case, we will issue the Passport. The police verification will be done later. You can choose any appointment date from the earliest five available dates for Passport related services.”
The process is subject to online validation of the Aadhaar number while processing and 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 s/he is still at the Passport Seva Kendra,” he said.