ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Criminality and Passport Issuance

Clean Criminal Record a Prerequisite?

In recent times, the passport has become an identity proof for most Indian citizens apart from being a travel document. In this regard, the insistence on “clean/no criminal record” as a qualifying criterion to obtain a passport must be questioned. Further, the lack of uniformity in the requirement of a clean record for renewal or disqualification of passports and the lack of cogency in the police verification exercise need to be reviewed and remedied.

This article is based on insights gained from an ongoing field action project, “Resource Cell for Juvenile Justice,” of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.

A passport for many is a document of “identity.” During the 1980s and 1990s, the ration card used to be considered an identity proof for a majority of the population in India. The benefits of the ration card were dual: it served the purpose of identity proof and residence proof, and all economic categories of people could avail the benefits of a ration card. However, with the change in policy, the benefits of ration cards have been restricted, leaving the middle- and higher-income groups out of the ambit of the benefits. And, thus, came in a generation that did not believe in making ration cards. With this transition, the passport became the proof of identity document for many as it again served the dual role of establishing identity as well as residence proof. This means that passports were not always made with the intent to travel abroad. The other documents in the 21st century that have served such a dual purpose in India are thePAN card, driving licence, and now, the Aadhaar card.

Passports, however, have always been considered a more authentic document given the authentication processes, especially with respect to the police verification. Other documents, such as thePAN card, driving licence, and Aadhaar card do not require such physical verification and can be obtained on the basis of submitted documents.

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Updated On : 4th Jun, 2018
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