Non-resident Indians (NRIs) will need to undergo a police verification (PV) to check for criminal records when they apply for renewing their passports, a diplomat has said. According to guidelines issued by India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the practice has been reinstated for all passport renewal applications since September this year.
India had scrapped the additional procedure in 2015 to boost the speed of delivering passport services. It has been resumed “to ensure that only Indian citizens are in possession of Indian passports”, according to Siddhartha Kumar Baraily, consul – passport and attestation at the Indian Consulate in Dubai.
Previously, a PV was done only when new passports were issued.
2 types of verification
“All applicants have to go through PV. There are two types of verification. Some go through (it) before the issuance of the passport (pre-PV) and, others, after (post-PV),” added Baraily.
According to the diplomat, 90 per cent of the total applications processed from the consulate in Dubai fall in the post-PV stage. He clarified that the verification process only looks for criminal cases registered under the applicant’s name.
“On a monthly basis, we process about 22,000 to 25,000 passports. Of these, approximately 100 cases come back with criminal records,” he said. “In a majority of the cases, we issue the passport and initiate the PV in the background. This will ensure that applicants get their passports on time.”
Some categories of applicants need pre-PV, which is about 10 per cent of the total applications every month. “Pre-PV is usually reserved for applicants whose last passports were not issued in the UAE or those who have not continuously been on UAE residence visas for the last five years. We also have an internal sorting system that identifies pre-PV and post-PV cases.”
What happens if criminal records pop up?
If it emerges that applicants have criminal cases registered against them in the post-PV stage — where the passport is already issued — “then we get in touch with them and ask them to provide an explanation”, the diplomat said.
“In any passport application, an individual is supposed to give a declaration stating that the information he or she is providing is true. We can question the applicant based on the responses they have given while signing the declaration.”
The diplomat stressed that PV only looks for criminal records. “We take criminal records very seriously. Many of them would’ve received orders from courts. We ask for an explanation only if a charge sheet has been filed. In case of civil cases, unless there is a debarment from the court, the PV is cleared,” said Baraily.
Submit applications in advance
In emergency cases, some pre-PV applicants are given the option to fast-track their applications via a process called Tatkal.
The consulate recommended that all applicants apply for their passports at least three weeks in advance. “Indians can apply for a passport renewal one year before expiry,” he said.
The verification process
For NRIs, physical verification where the police actually go to an applicant’s home has been done away with, except for issuing fresh passports. The mission is connected to the police headquarters in each district in India to help process the PV quickly. “We are directly connected to all district police headquarters in India through an internal system. Based on the pin code of the address given in an application, the request for PV will be sent to the district police. The district police headquarters then assigns the local police station to do the verification and their feedback comes back through the same channel,” Baraily explained.
According to the mission, PV from states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh arrives “fairly quickly”.
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