Vigilance clearance mandatory for J&K employees to get passport: Govt

Vigilance clearance mandatory for J&K employees to get passport: Govt
Representational PhotoFile/ GK

Jammu: The J&K government on Thursday made “the latest vigilance clearance” mandatory for its employees to acquire a passport.

Fresh instruction has been issued invoking Office Memorandum (OM), issued by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Government of India in February, 2020, to deny the passport to “such employees who are either under suspension or facing departmental inquiry or prosecution on account of serious charges.”

GAD Commissioner Secretary Manoj Kumar Dwivedi, in a circular issued today, maintained that the current system to issue the passport on the basis of verification carried out by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) did “not contain any mechanism” to deny passport to such employees.

In this connection, he also mentioned the observation of J&K Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) brought to the notice of the government that the “present mechanism for issuance of passport to government employees without obtaining requisite vigilance clearance results in the issuance of passport to those employees against whom vigilance cases are pending.”

“Accordingly, it is impressed upon all the Administrative departments/Heads of Departments to mandatorily obtain the latest vigilance clearance in respect of an employee applying for obtaining passport in terms of Office Memorandum dated February, 2020 issued by DoPT, GOI, strictly,” Dwivedi ordered.

“The passport to the citizens including government employees is issued on the basis of verification carried out by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). The current system does not contain any mechanism that would help deny the passport to such employees who are either under suspension or facing departmental inquiry or prosecution on account of serious charges. Currently, a government employee is only required to inform his employer for applying for a passport on Annexure-H,” GAD Commissioner noted.

Dwivedi pointed out that the guidelines for obtaining passport were reviewed by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Department of Personnel & Training, Government of India (GoI) in consultation with the Central Vigilance Commission and Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and vide Office Memorandum No. F. No. 11012/7/2017- Estt.A-111 dated February, 2020.

“Elaborate instructions have been issued for obtaining fresh vigilance clearance while considering grant of passports to government employees..... Thus, there is an urgent necessity to instruct all the departments to issue the NOC for issuance of passport on the basis of vigilance clearance only,” he directed.

Notably, as per Office Memorandum (OM) of DoPT dated February 18, 2020, it is mandatory for the “administrative department or Controlling authority 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 Indian Passport. As such it is required to check the vigilance clearance of such government servants.”

“Accordingly it has been decided that vigilance clearance can be withheld only under the circumstances; where (i) the officer is under suspension (ii) Charge sheet has been filed in a court by the Investigating Agency in a criminal case or after grant of sanction by the Competent Authority under PC Act or any other criminal matter and taken cognizance of, by the Court of Law,” the DoPT had instructed in its Office Memorandum in supersession of all previous orders, while asking all “ministries/departments/officers to bring these guidelines to the notice of all Disciplinary Authorities under their control.”

Prior to J&K government’s fresh instruction, the CID wing of J&K Police on July 31 this year had issued a circular directing for the “denial of security clearance” (during verification including that related to passport), for those involved in stone-pelting and other subversive activities.

“All the field units of CID SB-Kashmir are hereby directed to ensure that during verification related to passport, service and any other verification related to government services/schemes, the subject's involvement in law & order, stone pelting cases and other crime prejudicial to the security of the state be specifically looked into and same must be corroborated from local police station records,” the circular had read.

“Also, digital evidence like CCTV footage, photographs, videos and audio clips, quadcopter images available in the records of the police, security forces and security agencies be also referred,” the circular had directed adding that any subject found involved in any such cases “must be denied the security clearance.”

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