Passport is one of the important documents which, if lost can lead to many troubles. It can create problems in the plans for foreign trips. Importance of passports can be clearly inferred from the landmark judgment in Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India [i]. In this case passport of the petitioner was impounded because of an administrative order. It was held that the Fundamental Rights under Articles 14, 19(1)(a), 19(1)(g) and Article 21 of the petitioner were violated because of this impoundment. This case gave wide meaning to the phrase “Life and Personal Liberty” and it was held that right to go abroad comes within the ambit of Article 21. No one can be denied this right except according to the procedure established by law.
If your passport gets lost when you are in foreign country, then it creates troubles in returning back to the country. So what to do when your passport gets lost? Do you have to apply for new passport even in the case of emergencies? What is the procedure for applying for new passport? All these questions are very crucial to the people whose passport gets lost.
Responsibilities in case the passport gets lost
According to Rule 5 to Schedule V of The Passport Rules, 1980, “the holder of passport or travel document is personally responsible for its safe custody. It must not be wilfully lost, damaged or destroyed. In case of an unintentional loss or destruction, the facts and circumstances of such loss or destruction should be immediately reported to the nearest passport authority in India or (if the holder of the passport is abroad) to the nearest Indian Mission or Post and to the Local Police.”
Procedure for getting Emergency certificate
In case the passport has been lost while travelling, “Emergency Certificate” can be issued for travelling back to India. According to Section 4 of The Passports Act, 1967, Emergency certificate comes under the category of travel documents. Following are the steps for applying for “Emergency certificate”:
1. Some documents are to be submitted to the respective Consulate personally. One of the required documents is application form which is available online. Steps for filling online application form are below:
a. Go to the website https://portal4.passportindia.gov.in/Online/index.html;
b. Register by clicking on ‘Register’ Link.
c. Fill the form which requires general information like name, DOB, email id, etc. Also fill the login ID and password which will be required for the next step.
d. Click on “User Link” and fill the Login ID and password.
e. Now click on “Apply for Ordinary Passport/Emergency Certificate/Police Clearance Certificate/Surrender of Indian Passport/Diplomatic Passport/Official Passport”.
f. Fill the form and submit it.
2. Take printout of the application form.
3. Click on “Embassy/Consulate Connect” and select the respective country for the details regarding the procedure of submission of documents.
4. The other details of address and website of the centre where the documents are to be submitted can also be found by clicking on “Embassy/Consulate Connect”.
According to Rule 12(4) of The Passport Rules, 1980, the Emergency Certificate is valid for a period of 3 months from the date of its issue.
Procedure for Re-issue of passport
Emergency Certificate is issues only for the emergency in case of lost or damaged passport and as it is valid only for 3 months, it is important to apply for re-issue of passport as soon as possible. Following is the procedure for re-issue of passport:
1. Go to website https://portal1.passportindia.gov.in/AppOnlineProject/welcomeLink#
2. Click on “New User Registration”.
3. Fill the form and create Login ID and password for the next step.
4. Now login by clicking on “Existing User Login”.
5. Click on “Apply for Fresh Passport/Re-issue of Passport” link and fill the form.
6. Click the “Pay and Schedule Appointment” link on the “View Saved/ Submitted Applications” screen to schedule an appointment. Online payment is mandatory and can be made in the following ways:
a. Credit/ Debit Cards ( MasterCard and Visa);
b. Internet Banking (State Bank of India (SBI) and Associate Banks and Other Banks);
c. SBI Bank Challan.[ii]
7. Now print your application form. Appointment details will be sent through SMS which can be used as a proof at the time of appointment.
8. Bring the original documents at the time of appointment. Following documents must be submitted along with the application:
a. Proof of present address; Proof of Date of birth;
b. Affidavit stating how and where the passport got lost;
c. Police report in original;
d. Self-attested photocopy of first two and last two pages, including ECR/Non- ECR page of old passport, if available.[iii]
9. Visit the Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) for appointment.
Power to impound passports
Passports can be impounded under Section 10(3) of Passport Act, 1967. Section 10(3) specifies 8 cases in which passports can be impounded. The power to impound passports is often confused with the power to seize passports. Police can seize passports under Section 102(1) of The Criminal Procedure Code, 1967 but the power to impound is only under Section 10(3) of the Passports Act.
In Jignesh Prakash v. Central Bureau of Investigation and Ors[iv], CBI impounded the passport of appellant for 3 years and it was held by the High Court of Bombay that police has power to seize passports under Section 102 of The Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 but police can impound only under Section 10(3) of the Passport Act and seizing passports for such a long duration is illegal.
Misuse of passports in case of theft
Passports when stolen can be misused in a number of ways like stealing the identity of passport holder, using the stolen passport by altering the photo, etc. Stolen passports are used for illegal activities very often. Both the passport holder and the passport authorities should fulfill their responsibilities so that incidents of misuse of passports could be decreased. Punishment in case any person misuses the passport is specified under Section 12 of The Passport Act.
- Section 12(1)(d) says that if any person knowingly uses the passport or travel document of another person then the accused is liable for punishment for a term extending upto 2 years or with fine extending upto 5,000 rupees or both.
- Section 12(1A)(b) says that if any person who is not a citizen of India holds a forged passport or any travel document then the person would be liable for imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 1 year extending upto 5 years and with fine not less than 10,000 rupees extending upto 50,000 rupees.
Also, Indian Penal Code, 1860 specifies the punishment in case of forgery and making a false document, so in a situation of misuse of passports and using it by making some changes, the person can be charged under IPC. Section 463 is regarding ‘forgery’ and Section 464 talks about “making a false document”. It says that if any person alters the material part of any document then he/she can be charged for this offence. Punishment for forgery is described under Section 465. Forgery is a non- cognizable and bailable offence where punishment is for a term extending upto 2 years, or with fine, or with both.
The online system of filling application forms and paying fees have made the procedure very easy and effective. In case a person’s passport is lost, the foremost task should be to report to the nearest police station. After this the procedure for Emergency Certificate can be followed in case of urgency and application for re-issue of passport can be made after that. Most of the procedure is to be completed online and the applicant is to be physically present at the PSK only at the day of appointment. In case the lost passport is stolen and is misused by any person then there are provisions under The Passports Act, 1967 and IPC, 1860 which can be used to file case against such offences.
Edited by Pragash Boopal
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
[i] 1978 AIR 597
[ii] Passport Seva, Online Form Submission, https://portal1.passportindia.gov.in/AppOnlineProject/online/procFormSubOnl (Last visited on August 11, 2019, 11.15 PM)
[iii] Passport Seva, Lost/Damaged Passports, https://portal1.passportindia.gov.in/AppOnlineProject/online/faqLostDamagedPassports (Last visited on August 11, 2019, 8.06 PM)