New Delhi, Jan 28: The process of getting a fresh Indian passport has become easier with the government introducing two significant changes to further liberalise the procedure.
"The first is that the ministry has implemented a solution whereby applicants can book their appointments as per their choice," Exterl Affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup explained at a media briefing here on Thursday.
"The new provision will allow applicants to choose any of the latest five available working days while scheduling or rescheduling an appointment for passport-related services," he said.
Under the earlier system, the appointment was assigned by the Passport Seva system based on its availability and on first-in-first-out (FIFO) basis.
Swarup said that now an applicant can fill up his or her particulars online and pay the requisite fees.
"He or she will then be redirected to a 'pay and book appointment' screen allowing him or her to choose a date from the displayed calendar," he said, adding that the calendar would display the latest five available dates at the Passport Seva Kendra selected.
"The second and more significant set of changes are in the police verification process," the spokesman said.
He said the digital integration of police districts into the Passport Seva Project (PSP) has resulted in the reduction of days taken to complete verification from 49 in 2013 to 34 in 2015.
"But now, under this system, normal passport applications of all first time applicants who furnish three documents -- Aadhar, electoral photo identity card and permanent account number or PAN card -- and an affidavit stating their address, citizenship and swearing that there are no crimil cases pending against them will be processed on a post-police verification basis without payment of any additiol fees subject to successful online validation of the Aadhar number," Swarup said.
Basically, he said, a citizen who has these three relevant documents would be issued the passport "virtually immediately" and the police verification would follow later.
"The ministry has also launched a Passport Police App which allows for police verification to enter the status of verification digitally and in real time, thus cutting down further on the time required for verification," he said.
The changes have come into effect as of Wednesday which, Swarup said, was a Republic Day gift from the exterl affairs ministry.
As of December 31, 2015, 63.3 million Indians held valid passports, the spokesman added.