The Consular, Passport and Visa (CPV) Division of the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India provides passport services through Central Passport Organization (CPO) and its network of Passport Offices and Passport Seva Kendras; and consular, visa and passport services to overseas Indians/foreign nationals through the Indian Missions and Posts abroad.
Indian passports are issued through a network of 37 Passport Offices, CPV Division (only Diplomatic and Official passports) and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Administration. This network has been expanded by adding 77 Passport Seva Kendras as extended arms of Passport Offices. For Indians living abroad, passport and other miscellaneous services are rendered by 180 Indian Missions/Posts. All Passport Offices issue machine-readable passports as per the guidelines laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
The Central Passport Organization was created in 1959 as a subordinate office of the Ministry of External Affairs and is headed by Joint Secretary and Chief Passport Officer, who also acts as Appellate Authority under the Passports Act, 1967 and the Head of Department under the Delegation of Financial Powers Rules 1978. Joint Secretary (Consular) is responsible for consular affairs whereas Joint Secretary (PV) is entrusted with visa matters. The Division works under the supervision of Additional Secretary (CPV).
History and Background of Passport Issuance in India
There was no practice of issuing Indian passports before the First World War. During the War, the Government of India enacted Defence of India Act in 1914 and promulgated rules thereunder, which made it compulsory to possess a passport for egress from and ingress into India. The Act expired six months after the end of the War. It was, however, desired that the Government of India should retain power to continue that system in whole or in part for the purpose of bringing the Indian practice into line with that of other parts of the erstwhile British Empire and of other countries.
The Government of India, therefore, enacted the Indian Passports Act, 1920 which substantially retained the earlier provisions. This Act was renamed "The Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920".
Though 'Emigration' continued as a Central subject even after passing of Government of India Act, 1935, the Central Government delegated to the State Governments the power to issue passports on its behalf. Some of the State Governments viz., Mumbai, C.P. & Berar, Delhi, United Provinces etc., opened regular passport offices for this purpose functioning under their Home Departments.
Subsequently, the issue of passports became a Central subject under the Indian Constitution and was allotted to the Ministry of External Affairs. Till 1954, this work was continued to be carried out by the respective State Governments on behalf of this Ministry. It was in 1954 that the first five Regional Passport Offices at Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai and Nagpur were set up. This necessitated the setting up of a separate organization and the Central Passport and Emigration Organization was created in 1959 as a Subordinate Office of this Ministry. The Central Passport Organization (CPO) has sanctioned strength of about 2,697 officers and staff members as on 01-04-2013.
Up to 1966, the issue of passports was regulated through administrative instructions. The power to issue passports was exercised by the Government by virtue of Article 73 read with List I, Item 19 of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India. However, as the Parliament was not in session, the Government promulgated the Passports Ordinance, 1967 and after six months replaced it with the present Passports Act, 1967,which came into force on June 24, 1967.This day is now celebrated as Passport Seva Divas.
Under the Passports Act, 1967, the Central Government has the powers to frame rules thereunder. The first such Rules called the Passport Rules, 1967 were thus framed the same year. Following various amendments in course of time, these were consolidated and the Rules were last issued as the Passport Rules 1980 which have been further modified partially.
Passport and Related Services in 2012 at a Glance
Passport Issuing Authorities (PIAs)
Headquarters (CPV Division) - For diplomatic and official passports
37 Passport Offices
Andaman and Nicobar Islands Administration
180 Indian Missions/ Posts abroad
Central Passport Organisation. Created in 1959 as a Subordinate Office of the Ministry of External Affairs
Sanctioned cadre strength: 2697 (Group A posts: 223; Group B posts: 1046 Group C posts: 1428)
Passports issued and Related Services rendered in 2012
37 POs and A & N: 62.30 lakh (inclusive of PCCs)
Headquarters: 24,311 (2,301 Dip + 22,010 Off)
Missions/ Posts abroad: 11.35 lakh (inclusive of 1.08 lakh printed at CIPPS)