ISLAMABAD - Passport Office has extended amnesty period for another two months for those government employees who had secured their passports in private capacity while concealing their profession — an offence under the law.

The previous deadline expired on July 23 that was also extended for three days.

Passport Office also clarified that though cabinet in its July 25 meeting decided to remove column of “profession” from the passport, yet it is still mandatory for government servants to declare their profession and produce mandatory No Objection Certificate (NOC) from their respective departments during immigration while travelling abroad.

The July 26 notification issued by the Directorate General of Immigration &Passports says that the federal government in a decision taken on July 25 has approved extension of two months for the government officers/officials who obtained passports in private capacity while concealing of their government service.

Earlier, a probe jointly carried out by Passport Office and the Federal Investigation Agency had revealed that around 84,000 government officials and senior bureaucrats had obtained passports in private capacity apparently to void getting mandatory No Objection Certificates (NOCs) from their departments before flying abroad. The security agencies suspect that these bureaucrats didn’t want to disclose their “expensive” foreign tours.

Though cabinet removed column of ‘profession’ from the passport, yet it is still mandatory

for govt servants to declare their profession and produce NOC during immigration while travelling abroad”

Under Section 6 (1) of the Passport Act 1974, obtaining passport by a government servant in a private capacity is a punishable offence.

“The government officers/officials who obtained passports in concealment of profession and could not avail the policy announced by federal government, which ended on July 23, are advised to approach passport offices concerned,” reads the notification. It adds that they should bring NOCs along with them to get their passport data rectified and fresh passports issued within two months of issuance of this letter and on payment of additional processing fee of Rs5000.

“The government officers/officials who obtained passports before joining the government service and their passports have been expired and they didn’t use these for travelling abroad during their validity period, may apply for issuance of passports as and when they are required to travel.”

The notification says that those who travelled within the validity of their passports after entry into government service, without obtaining ex-Pakistan leave and NOCs from their respective departments, shall have to get their profession amended on payment of additional processing fee of Rs 5000 within two months. It adds that they would also have to produce NOCs from their respective departments.

The notification explains that in case of employees of state owned organizations including autonomous, semi-autonomous, corporations, and companies etc. where government service is not printed on passport booklet; an interface has been developed through which necessary update in the system can be made without issuance of subsequent passports on payment of processing fee of Rs 5000.

The notification concluded that the defaulting officers/officials will be liable to punishment under section 6 of Passport Act 1974 on expiry of deadline. The extension will end on September 27, 2019.

Section 6 (1) of the Passports Act says that  “A person shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both, if he: (a) make or makes use of any statement which he knows or believes to be false in any document for obtaining passport; or (b) attests or verifies statement which he knows or has reason to believe to be false in any document used for obtaining a passport; or (c) wilfully conceals any fact which under the circumstances he ought to disclose for the purpose of obtaining a passport for himself or another person…...”

Earlier this year, the cabinet had decided to give one-time amnesty to those government employees who had concealed their employment while obtaining passports.

The amnesty was of three months which started in April and ended on July 20. After getting positive response of official availing amnesty and because the deadline was expiring over the weekend, it was extended till July 23(Tuesday).

The cabinet had taken up this issue in February this year where the interior ministry proposed that a policy should be devised to allow these officials to get their passports corrected. During discussion, the cabinet members had also viewed that procedural requirements should be simplified to lessen undue burden on civil servants in taking NoCs for travelling abroad if they are on leave. The cabinet at that time also said it would examine rationale of “profession” column in the passport in the light of global practices.