Delay, lapses in issuing passports: CAG report

New Delhi, May 17 (IANS) The Comptroller and Auditor General of India has pulled up the external affairs ministry for inordinate delays in issuing passports and for not taking “corrective” measures to deny passports to criminals and terrorists.

“Our performance audit has showed that there are serious grounds for concern at nearly all aspects of the administration of passport, visa and consular services,” the CAG said in a report Thursday.

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During 2001-2005, on an average only one out of five applications for passports resulted in the passport being issued within the stipulated time, the report said.

In the normal course, a passport is required to be issued within 21 days of the application.

“There were significant delays in the issue of passports. In the 12 selected RPOs/POs, only 19 percent of the passports were issued within the prescribed time,” the report said.

The CAG audit has identified the delays in the police verification reports (PVRs) as the chief reason for delays in issuing passports and has recommended the setting up of a special cell in the police department for verification within the prescribed time.

“Effective supervision, monitoring and internal controls were lacking in passport matters. This resulted in issue of Indian passports to foreign nationals, issue of 275 fake passports and issue of passports to criminals and terrorists,” said the CAG report.

The CAG ticked off the external affairs ministry for “not taking corrective measures” to strengthen its internal controls even after the “deficiencies and malpractices” were brought to its notice.

The report also highlights how a large number of undelivered passports were not destroyed by regional passport offices in different parts of the country. “The absence of proper accounting and timely destruction of these passports could have serious implications, including possible misuse,” it said.

The CAG has recommended that proper records need to be maintained for receipt, destruction and balance of returned undelivered passports.