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  • Context (IE): Embroiled in a sex abuse case, a politician fled to Germany on a diplomatic passport.

Diplomatic Passport (‘Type D’ passports)

Diplomatic Passports - PMF IAS

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  • Diplomatic passports have maroon covers and are valid for five years or less.
  • Entitlements: Certain privileges and immunities as per international law, including immunity from arrest, detention, and certain legal proceedings in the host country.
  • Issuing authority: Consular, Passport & Visa Division of Ministry of External Affairs.
  • Eligible categories: Diplomatic status holders; government-appointed individuals travelling abroad for official business; branches A and B of Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officials (normally at the rank of Joint Secretary and above); and relatives and immediate family of officers employed in IFS and MEA.
  • Lastly, diplomatic passports are also issued to “select individuals who are authorised to undertake official travel on behalf of the government”. This includes union ministers and MPs who often travel abroad to represent the government with validity concurrent with their term.
  • Typically, MEA issues visa notes to government officials going abroad for an official assignment or visit.

Operational visa exemption agreements

  • Germany is among the 34 countries with whom India has operational visa exemption agreements for holders of diplomatic passports.
  • India has similar agreements with countries such as France, Austria, Afghanistan, Czech Republic, Italy, Greece, Iran, and Switzerland.
  • India has agreements with 99 other countries, wherein diplomatic passport holders, service & official passports can avail of operational visa exemption for stays up to 90 days.
  • According to the Rajya Sabha Secretariat, “Members, when using a diplomatic passport, are required to apply for prior political clearance directly to MEA at least three weeks in advance.”

Revocation of diplomatic passport

  • It is done as per the Passport Act 1967. It can be done in case of:
    • Wrongful possession,
    • Or if it is obtained by the suppression of material information;
    • Or if deemed necessary in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India,
    • Or friendly relations of India with any foreign country.
  • It can also be revoked if the holder is convicted by a court in India and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years after the passport is issued.
  • Finally, it can be revoked upon orders from a court during proceedings of criminal cases.

To know more, visit > Passports: Evolution and Features.

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