Govt officers given 3 months to ‘fix’ passports

50,000 officials obtained passport in private capacity, Interior division


Zafar Bhutta March 01, 2019
Representational image. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: More than 50,000 government officers have adopted illegal means of obtaining passports in a private capacity by concealing facts about their profession.

Now, the government has given a three-month deadline to these government officials to correct their data by producing No-Objection Certificates (NoC) from their parent departments. On expiry of the three-month deadline, the passports of defaulting officials may be blocked and their cases referred to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to initiate legal action, a senior government official told The Express Tribune.

According to the Interior division, the director general of Immigration and Passports Islamabad had informed that more than 50,000 government officials had obtained passports in private capacity without mentioning government service as their profession. Obtaining a passport in private capacity by a government servant by concealing facts is a punishable offence under section 6(1)(a) and (c) of Passport Act 1974.

The official said that the issue was taken up in a cabinet meeting held on February 21. During the meeting, the Interior division said that the government should devise a policy to allow these officials to get their profession amended and corrected in their passports under modification category by paying additional charges of Rs5,000 each. This would be in addition to the prescribed passport fee to compensate additional human resource and time required on the part of immigration and passports department, he added.

Under a new policy, the Interior division proposed to the cabinet that advertisement should be given in newspapers asking government officials to approach passports officers along with recommendations of their respective departments to get their data rectified within three months of its publications.

It further proposed that the government officials who obtained passport before joining government service may be advised to correct their data in the passport by producing NoC from their parent departments.

In addition to the normal passport fee, an extra processing fee of Rs5,000 under modification category may be levied on defaulting officers who obtained passports in private capacity being government servants. On expiry of given time, the passports of defaulting officials may be cancelled or blocked and legal action may be initiated against them by the departments concerned and FIA under the relevant section of Passport Act 1974.

During the discussion, cabinet members stressed on simplifying the procedural requirements to lessen undue burden on civil servants in taking NoC for travelling abroad if they are on leave. It was also observed that such obstacles, which induce people to explore and adopt illegal avenues, should be removed from the existing system.

The cabinet approved the proposed policy submitted by the Interior division and decided that Interior division will examine the need and rationale of the ‘profession’ column in the passport in the light of global best practices.

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