While passports were considered to be one of the most authentic address proofs until now, this may not be the case soon if the Ministry of External Affairs has its way. The MEA is considering keeping the last page of the passport, which currently contains many details of the holder including the address, blank.
Surendera Kumar, under-secretary of policy and legal matters at the consular, passport and visa division of MEA told Hindustan Times that the ministry was thinking over the plan and it could be implemented when the "next series" of passports are issued.
He also revealed that "the decision to keep the last page of the passport blank has been taken" to protect the details of the passport holder. However, this change will not make a difference to the immigration department as all the required details of the holder are printed on the first page. The passport now also comes with a barcode, which when scanned pulls out all the details of the individual.
Echoing Kumar's thoughts, JD Vaishampayan at the regional passport office in Pune told HT that there are a few changes in the pipeline and they "may happen soon."
Meanwhile, the MEA is also said to be considering a few other changes to the passport, including the colour scheme. Currently, Indian passports are issued in three colours – white for government officers and those travelling on work allotted by the Centre, red for diplomats and blue for other citizens. The blue passport too has two categories – one which requires emigration check and another that doesn't.
With these changes, the passports that require an emigration check may come in orange, to facilitate checks as it will be easier for security officials to identify which passports need a check and which do not.
"As the last page of the passport would not be printed now, the passport holders with ECR (Emigration Check Required) status would be issued a passport with orange passport jacket and those with non-ECR status would continue to get a blue passport," NDTV quoted a ministry spokesperson as saying.
If the MEA decides to go ahead with this plan, these changes will be applicable the next series onwards, and the current passports will remain valid, reported HT.
The report comes at a time when the 12-digit Aadhaar number and its necessity has been in news. The government had made it mandatory for citizens to link their Aadhaar number to mobile phones, bank accounts, social schemes and many other documents by December 31. However, the Supreme Court had pushed the date to March 31. The MEA's move has now raised questions about if this is the government's way of further validating the Aadhaar.