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Mahesh

27/05/24 06:04 AM IST

Diplomatic passports for MPs and rules for cancellation

In News
  • Nearly a month after a Special Investigation Team (SIT) began probing allegations of sexual assault and abuse against Hassan MP Prajwal Revanna.
Diplomatic Passports
  • Under the Passport Act of 1967, the Central government issues three classes of passports — ordinary, official and diplomatic — and travel documents such as emergency certificates and certificates of identity, to those who wish to leave the Indian mainland by land, water or air.
  • The deep blue-coloured ‘ordinary passports’ are issued for personal travel for adults, with a validity of 10 years for adults and five years for minors they attain the age of 18.
  • There was a proposal to roll out orange passports for citizens under the Emigration Check Required (ECR) category.
  • Official passports with white jackets are issued to designated Government officials and other individuals specifically authorised by the Centre to work abroad on official assignments.
  • A diplomatic passport, or Type ‘D’ passport, is for designated members authorised by the Centre to represent the country.
  • These include senior government officials, Members of Parliament and their spouses. Such a passport has a maroon jacket and is valid for five years or less, depending on the position of the holder and the nature of their assignment and visit.
  • While ordinary passports are issued through a network of passport offices across the country, the Consular, Passport & Visa (CPV) Division of the MEA exclusively handles matters related to the issuance of diplomatic and official passports.
Rules for MPs
  • According to the MEA, diplomatic passports are issued to individuals with diplomatic status, those on diplomatic assignments abroad, and those in “certain positions” as determined by the Central Government.
  • Diplomatic passport holders travelling abroad for official purposes typically do not pay visa fees. They have immunity from arrest under international law and expedited immigration.
  • Besides officials working at Indian missions, Members of Parliaments and their spouses are entitled to diplomatic passports along with ordinary passports.
  • In the context of MPs, while diplomatic passports can be used for private visits like tourism or to visit friends and relatives, they are not meant to be used when travelling abroad for private business, as per the provisions.
  • Notably, MPs visiting abroad must inform the Secretary-General about the purpose and other information related to their visit at least three weeks in advance so that the MEA is informed of the same, according to a parliamentary bulletin of the Rajya Sabha Secretariat dated December 2022.
  • In case of official visits, political clearances from the MEA are sought by the Rajya Sabha Secretariat on behalf of the Members.
  • “Members, when using diplomatic passports, are required to apply for prior political clearance directly to the MEA by using the link www.epolclearance.gov.in and ensure that before proceeding abroad the requisite political clearance has been obtained.
  • Requests may kindly be made at least three weeks in advance,”.
  • This is also applicable for private visits like tourism or visiting friends, it mentions.
  • Diplomatic passport holders do not need a visa note from the MEA when travelling to any of the 34 countries with which India has mutual visa waiver agreements for diplomatic passports.
  • Under this exemption, the permitted period of stay ranges between 30 and 90 days.
Conditions for revoke
  • The passport authority can impound or revoke a passport if the holder has provided wrong information, has been convicted in a criminal case, or there are pending criminal proceedings in an Indian court, or if it is in the overall national interest.
  • Section 10(3) of the Passport Act of 1967, which deals with ‘variation, impounding and revocation’ of passports and travel documents, mentions the specific circumstances in detail.
  • As per the Act, a passport can be impounded or revoked if the holder is in wrongful possession or has provided wrong information to the authority; or if the authority believes that impounding or revoking the passport will be in the interests of the country’s sovereignty, integrity, security, maintaining friendly relations with a foreign country, in the interests of the general public; or any of the conditions of the passport have not been followed.
  • The passport of a person convicted by an Indian court of an offence involving “moral turpitude” and sentenced to at least two years in prison after the passport was issued can also be confiscated.
  • Further, a passport can also be impounded or revoked if there are pending proceedings against the holder in a criminal court, or if a court has issued a warrant or summons for the holder’s appearance or arrest, or if there is a court order prohibiting their departure from India.
Source- The Hindu

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