Tighter passport verification to curb forgery

Pune: The passport department would soon verify applicants’ credentials through real-time comparison of their records in the database of the Election Commission of India and the Income Tax department.

The decision comes soon after the successful interlinking of the passport project with the Aadhaar database. It is aimed at strengthening the applicant verification process at the granting (final) stage by eliminating the risk of forgery of documents by applicants.

The proposal, first mooted on August 18 at a meeting between officials of the Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), has cleared the first stage and is currently under study for technical feasibility. Senior officials in the MEA hope the service will be available at the passport seva kendras in the next four or five months.

A senior MEA official told TOI, “Once the databases are integrated, the granting officers will be able to send Voter ID or PAN details to the Income Tax department and the Election Commission of India to verify genuineness of an applicant’s data. The entire process will happen in real-time and in the presence of the applicant.”

On the need for integration, the official said, “A small number of applicants have a tendency to forge documents or minor details. However, they cannot alter what is on the government database and will be caught instantly.”

The integration will not eliminate the need for police verification though. “On-ground verification of the applicant, his citizenship and criminal record will still be needed,” the official said.

Integrating the system with driving licence details is also in the offing.


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