Getting a passport made will take less time now as police verification as a compulsory precursor has been virtually done away with. Also, passport applicants will need to submit only three out of the stipulated 14 documents in support of their application, provided one of them is a photo-identity document.
Police verification would be done after the issuance of passport since pre-verification had been the main cause of delay, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said at a passport officers' conference on Friday.
Further, the category of officials authorised to issue verification certificates under the Tatkal scheme is being expanded. Even the inspector (SHO) of the local police station has been authorised to issue one. “The existing time limit of 10 and 20 days for issuance of passports under the Tatkal scheme is being reduced to seven and 14 days respectively, without any upward revision of the fee,” said Mukherjee.
The new guidelines will be effective from Saturday.
Mukherjee said all diplomatic and official passports would be converted into biometric passports, having scanned fingerprints of the holder, by 2007. “Based on the experience so gained, all ordinary passports will also be converted into biometric passports in the coming years,” he said.
Mukherjee admitted his ministry was taking certain risks to make issuance of passports easier. He, however, said: “We are also examining suitable amendments to the Passports Act to provide for stricter penalties for those obtaining passports by fraudulent means.”