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History and Background of Passport Issuance in India
1. There was no practice of issuing Indian passports before the First World War. During that war, the Government of India enacted Defence of India Act in 1914 and promulgated rules there under, which made it compulsory to possess a passport for egress from and ingress into India.
2. 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 British Empire and of other countries.
3. 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".
4. Though 'Emigration' continued as a Central subject even after passing 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., Bombay, C.P. & Berar, Delhi, United Provinces etc., opened regular passport offices for this purpose functioning under their Home Departments.
5. 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 Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi, Madras 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. By 31st July 2000, there is a total of 28 Passport Offices, a number which has increased to 37 in 2009. The Central Passport Organization (CPO)has a strength of about 2,500 officers and staff members and a budget of about Rs. 500 Crores.
6. 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. These instructions were initially codified in the Passport Manual, 1959, which was further consolidated in 1983, incorporating the instructions issued from time to time. In the initial years, the philosophy regarding the issue of passport was that this was considered to be discretionary matter for the Central Government. This authority was however to be discharged without discrimination. The passports were, therefore, issued after the relevant authorities were assured that the security of the State and its good name would be maintained by its holders.
7. The philosophy regarding the issue of passports underwent a radical change when the Supreme Court by a majority judgment in the case of Satwant Singh Sahawney versus Government of India in 1966 held that even if passports were granted/refused fairly by the Government of India, there was an element of arbitrariness in that connection and that refusal of passport facilities affected the personal liberty of an individual (right to travel) and it was necessary, therefore, that there should be an Act to govern the issue of passports. The Government, therefore, 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.The Act was amended by the Passports (Amendment) Act, 1978 (31 of 1978) and by Act 35 of 1993.
8. 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. Some of these Rules have been amended, supplemented and repealed from time to time. The amendments were consolidated and the Rules were last issued as the Passport Rules 1980.
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