New Delhi: In what could spell further trouble for Indian government officers with pending charges against them, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), the Central Vigilance Commission and the Ministry of External Affairs have now redrafted rules that prevent such officials from applying for a passport.
In February, the Union government informed the Lok Sabha that over 4,000 government employees had been booked in corruption cases registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) over the last three years.
According to an official order issued on Friday, government employees under suspension or those who have been granted sanction of prosecution over corruption charges will not be able to get a passport. The move comes after the Centre reviewed existing guidelines of passport issuance.
“It is required to check the vigilance clearance of such government servants for grant of passport,” the order stated. At the same time, the Centre has also decided that vigilance clearance can be withheld if an officer is under suspension or a charge sheet has been filed in a court by the investigating agency in a criminal case.
Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh had also informed the Lok Sabha that the CBI had stated that 1,767 corruption cases had been registered against 4,123 public servants during 2016, 2017 and 2018, out of which charge sheets were filed in 900 cases, and regular departmental action had been recommended in 59 cases.
The vigilance clearance for obtaining a passport can also be denied to employees after grant of sanction by the competent authority under the Prevention of Corruption Act or any other criminal matter and taken cognizance of by a court of law, the order added.
All Central government departments have now been asked to check as to whether any provision of the section 6(2) of the Passport Act, 1967 is attracted in case of employees who are working under them while obtaining an Indian passport.
The section allows authorities to refuse passports to an applicant if his/her presence outside India may prejudice the friendly relations of India with any foreign country, or if the central government is of the opinion that the issue of travel document to the applicant will not be in the public interest, among others.
Passports can also be refused in case a warrant or summons for appearance or a warrant for arrest of the applicant has been issued by a court under any law for the time being in force or that an order prohibiting the departure from India of the applicant has been made by any such court, according to the Act.