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Govt plans easier passport checks

It is considering scrapping procedure of verifying if a person stays at declared address, reports Aloke Tikku.

india Updated: May 25, 2006 02:12 IST

The government is considering scrapping the procedure of verifying if a person stays at his declared address before issuing a passport.

The foreign ministry is trying to "convince" the security establishment in North Block to switch from a location-based identity verification system for passport applicants to one based on establishing the applicant's identity. It would not really matter where you stay or for how long.

If the changeover comes through, it will make the practice of policemen knocking on your doors to verify if you actually stay there -- and asking you to get two neighbours to vet your character -- redundant.

It would also cut down the time lag between applying and issuing passports, mostly due to delayed police verification reports. Provided, of course, if you can produce any credible identification document. A tentative list on South Block's drawing board includes the Election Commission's Voter's ID card, the Income Tax's Permanent Account Number card or even the state government's Driving Licence.

Foreign ministry officials recently told a parliamentary committee that location-based verification system did not really have much of an advantage. This, because the applicant could move out -- or go missing in security parlance -- once the residence verification was done.

Police officials who have been associated with the exercise acknowledge the point. One suggested that the system may have served a purpose at some point in history but needed an effective revamp to meet the challenge of migration - into and within cities and towns -- and the big numbers involved.

The traditional policing concept has been that the local cop should know who lives in the area, a register maintained at the police station gave anyone the criminal record of people living within its jurisdiction.