Access to public services in India is controlled by the bureaucracy. Everyone in India has a story of how they had to seek an official of a certain rank to attest certain documents, which would then provide the said person with access to specific public services. Unless the person is in a position of influence or knows someone with the same, this becomes an onerous task.
The government has responded to the concerns raised by the public, about the discretionary powers that bureaucrats hold, but in a gradual manner.
One such example is a decision by the Ministry of External Affairs. As per the new rules of the MEA, individuals do not require the recommendation of a Class 1 officer to apply for a passport under the tatkal or instant category, reported the Hindustan Times.
Who is a Class 1 officer?
“A Class 1 officer is someone at the level of deputy secretary or above, working for the Government of India or a state government. Also, gazetted officers include a district collector, superintendent of police, assistant commissioners, tehsildars or government officials with a higher designation are considered Class 1 officers,” says the publication.
This decision has made it easier for applicants who urgently require a passport, claims the MEA. Earlier, applicants needed a Class 1 officer’s seal of verification to apply for passports on tatkal. Now, this is no longer required. Government officials claim that this change in the rules reflects a higher degree of trust in the average Indian citizen.
“Not every citizen knows and has access to a Class 1 officer. This decision would help all such common citizens of our nation wanting to apply for a tatkal passport. If an applicant provides all the necessary documents and all of those are valid documents, we don’t need a middleman to verify it,” said a senior bureaucrat with the MEA to Hindustan Times.
He added, “With this new norm in effect, the documents an applicant would need for applying in the tatkal category are an Aadhaar card, PAN card and Election card.”
Unlike the standard procedure, a tatkal application usually takes one to three working days for the concerned Passport Seva Kendra to dispatch passports to citizens who have completed and submitted the necessary paperwork.