If you are in the South of India, chances are that you will be issued a passport within 15 days while in the North, it could take more than 15 days. In Jammu & Kashmir, more than 90% of the passports issued took more than 30 days for dispatch, the highest in the country by quite a distance.
In 2016, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) came up with the ‘Citizen’s Charter of Central Passport Organisation for Issuance and Delivery of Passport Services 2016’. The charter lists down service delivery standards and timelines for issuing various types of passports including re-issue etc. The standards indicate a maximum of 30 working days for issue of a fresh passport (excluding the police verification period) in normal cases. But data shared by the government in the Rajya Sabha show wide variations in timelines across states & regions in the country.
Most passports issued in RPO Lucknow
There are 37 RPOs (Regional Passport Offices) and one Consular, Passport & Visa Division (CPV) in Delhi that issue passports in the country. As per data shared by the MEA, 1.01 crore passports were issued in 2015 across the country while in 2016, 97.06 lakh passports were issued. As expected, the RPO in Lucknow issued the highest number of passports in the country followed by RPO Hyderabad and RPO Bangalore. The least number of passports were issued by RPO Jammu (38334) in 2015 and RPO Raipur (41932) in 2016.
More than 50% of the passports issued within 15 days in South India
In 2015, more than 50% of the passports were issued within 15 days by the RPOs in South. RPOs in the North could issue only 1/4th of the passports within 15 days while the RPOs in the East issued only 20% passports within 15 days. On the other hand, RPOs in the East issued 62.5% of the passports in more than 30 days, the highest for any region. One of the possible reasons for such disparity in the time taken could be the process and time taken for police verification. There is definitely something to learn from the South when it comes to issuing passports in time.
Substantial improvement seen in 2016
In 2016, there has been a substantial improvement in all the regions. Both in the South & West, more than 50% passports were issued within 15 days. For the North, this percentage went up to 35.9% from 24.6%.
More than 90% of the passports take 30 days or more in Jammu & Kashmir
The variation in time taken for passport issuance by various RPOs could not have been starker. While 73.7% of the passports were issued within 15 days by RPO Goa, only 1.5% passports were issued within 15 days by RPO Jammu. In fact, more than 90% of the passports issued by both RPO Jammu & RPO Srinagar took more than 30 days for the dispatch. This is the highest in the country by quite a distance. Other than the security situation in Jammu & Kashmir, what explains such a delay?
Out of the 10 RPOs that issued more than 50% of the passports within 15 days in 2015, 6 of them are in the South. Except RPO Kolkata, all the RPOs that issued less than 20% of the passports within 15 days in 2015 are in the North.
No improvement in Jammu & Kashmir in 2016
While there has been a substantial improvement in the time taken for passport issuance by various RPOs in 2016, the situation in Jammu & Kashmir remained the same. More than 90% of the passports issued by RPOs in Jammu & Srinagar took more than 30 days for dispatch even in 2016. In 2016, nine (9) RPOs issued more than 50% passports within 15 days and six of these RPOs are in the South. RPO Goa surprisingly issued only 58% passports within 15 days in 2016 compared to 74% in 2015.
On its part, the MEA cited non-receipt of police verification report within the stipulated time of 21 days, receipt of incomplete police verification report, inability of the applicant in providing required documents, increase in demand for passports, shortage of manpower in the Central Passport Organization etc as some of the reasons for the delay.