The Union government has recently taken many steps to provide better passport services in a timely, assured and efficient manner. For instance, the government has teamed up with the Department of Posts to utilize the Head Post Offices as Post Office Passport Seva Kendras (POPSK) in order to extend passport services to the citizens on a larger scale and for ensuring wider area coverage.
The government has also permitted submission of several new documents as proof of date of birth and has removed several Annexes to the Passport Rules. And now the physical police verification for getting a passport will soon be a thing of the past as the government plans to connect the service with a robust national database of crimes and criminals that will check the antecedents of applicants at the click of a mouse.
Talking to the media on Monday, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi said the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems Project (CCTNS) is expected to link with the passport service of the Ministry of External Affairs and it will replace physical police verification for passport applicants with online verification in a year, as per a PTI report.
Here we are taking a look at some of the recent initiatives that have made or will make acquiring a passport easier:
1. Physical police verification for passport applicants will be replaced with online verification in about a year. The inter-operable criminal justice system aims to integrate the CCTNS project with e-courts and e-prison data bases in the first instance and with the other pillars of the criminal justice system. The integration will be achieved by providing access to the judiciary, police and prisons through a desktop dashboard to facilitate expeditious and informed decisions and aid investigations. The full implementation of the project with all the new components would lead to a central citizen portal having linkages with state-level citizen portals that will provide a number of citizen-friendly services. These include services like police verification for various purposes like issuance of passport, reporting a crime and online tracking of the case progress, online reporting of grievances against police officials, accessing victim compensation fund and legal services etc.
2. The government has teamed up with the Department of Posts to utilize the Head Post Offices as Post Office Passport Seva Kendras (POPSK) in order to extend passport services to the citizens on a larger sc ale and for ensuring wider area coverage. It has decided to set up 235 POPSK in two phases – 86 in Phase-I and 149 in Phase-II. 52 POPSK identified in Phase-I have already been operationalized. Applicants, who apply for their passports online through the passport portal, can now schedule an appointment and visit the designated POPSK to complete the formalities similar to those at the PSK necessary prior to the issue of the passport. Thus, the government has been able to reduce the distance required to travel by an applicant to get a passport.
3. As a part of its simplification drive, the government has also permitted submission of several new documents as proof of date of birth and has removed several Annexes to the Passport Rules.
While speaking at an event marking the completion of 50 years of Passport Act, 1967 recently, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had said that the year that went by will go down in history as the one in which this Ministry took path-breaking steps in its endeavour towards building better passport delivery mechanisms. “Not only did we simplify the Passport Rules, but also we took giant strides in taking passport services closer to our citizens,” she said.