Police verification for the issuing or renewal of passports will soon be moved online, allowing the procedure to be completed within a week instead of the standard 20 days, reports the Times of India. According to a home ministry official, it will take 3-4 months to integrate the databases and have the technical infrastructure in place, with the system expected to go online by November.
The system will work by allowing all police officers above SP (superintendent) level to access databases like the National Population Register, Electoral ID database and the Aadhaar ID database. The report mentions that by linking Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS), UID, NPR and EPIC, the police should be able to match the photo and address provided in the passport applications with these records. This will enable them to verify the identity, address and criminal record of a given passport applicant.
Initially, the online background check will be verified through physical verification by local police, before eventually migrating the entire process online. Interestingly, the home ministry mentions that the online system will not only be used for passport services, but can be extended to police verification of domestic servants, tenants and new government recruits.
This is an interesting initiative by the government, and a much needed one. It should help reduce the time it takes to obtain a passport, which is tediously long right now, even with the new online application system. I know, I am yet to get a call/mail after the verification process two weeks ago, which itself took place about a month after I applied online.
The online police verification system, if eventually made available for the private sector, should also make life easier for companies like Uber, that have been having trouble keep tabs on its drivers. Similarly various other digital aggregators, like the services marketplaces LocalOye and Zimmber, which aggregate professionals from various fields, will also benefit from being able to quickly ask for a police verification on the professionals they list.
Passport services at Common Service Centres:
In March last year, the Ministry of External Affairs had said it would launch passport related services through the one lakh Common Services Centers (CSC) in rural areas. The CSC scheme for setting up of over 100,000 Internet enabled centers in rural areas was approved by the government in September 2006. The CSCs was to help applicants with filing and uploading of forms, payment of applicable fees and scheduling of appointment for the visit to the Passport Seva Kendra (PSK), at a fee not exceeding Rs 100.
Image source: Flickr user Baigal Byamba