MEA simplifies documentation for obtaining passport quickly

From Business Insider

In a welcome move, the ministry of external affairs has announced two major changes to fast-track the process of getting passports for the first time.

Now Indian citizens can get a fresh normal category passport under a week’s time. One would only need 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).

As of now, the process took a month, because of the police verification that took up a lot of time.

In the changed rules, police verification will be conducted after the passport is issued. This was reserved only for the Tatkal process, a costlier but effective process. Now there would be no extra charge for the service.

However, for this process, online validation of the Aadhaar number at the time of processing would be required, along with an approval from the granting officer.

“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,” Anil Kumar Sobti, director of the passport division in the ministry, told TOI.

“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 stated.

The second change will give applicants the liberty to choose a date from the next five available working days to schedule their appointment at their chosen Passport Seva Kendra under the relevant Regional Passport Office (RPO).

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