We Are in AI Era, Documents Issued By Govt Must Conform To Global Standards: Kerala High Court

Kerala HC Law Insider

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Published on: 14 June 2023 at 12:10 IST

Kerala High Court Urges Government to Embrace AI and Enhance Police Clearance Certificate Process

The Kerala High Court, in response to the rejection of a Police Clearance Certificate issued by an Indian authority by Kuwaiti authorities, emphasized the importance of government entities keeping pace with evolving global demands in the era of artificial intelligence (AI) for the realization of the “digital India” vision.

Justice C.S. Dias, presiding over a single bench, directed the competent authority under the Ministry of External Affairs to promptly undertake measures to modernize the central database and enhance the Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) issuance process.

The court specifically called for the inclusion of a barcode, scanned photograph, and details of criminal cases pertaining to the individual in question.

High Court Bench said, “We are in the AI era and the 5G revolution. Our Nation is a front-runner in technology. We are striving to make India Digital with initiatives like Indiastack.global, to have a repository of open standards and interoperability principles of key projects implemented under the Digital India Mission like Aadhaar, UPI, Digilocker etc. The certificates issued by the government and statutory authorities have to be internationally accepted, especially when India is a signatory to international conventions and treaties”.

Petitioner’s Police Clearance Certificate Rejected by Kuwait Embassy Due to Lack of Barcode

In this case, the petitioner, who is currently employed in Kuwait, was accused of matrimonial offenses by his estranged wife and was granted bail. The petitioner claimed that although the Regional Passport Office had issued him a Police Clearance Certificate (PCC), which allowed him to travel to Kuwait for employment purposes, the Kuwait Embassy rejected the certificate because it did not contain a barcode.

It is the case of the petitioner that the stance of the respondent Passport Office that PCCs are outsourced through outside agencies and that the former does not have the provision to issue PCC with a barcode when there is a pending criminal case, is untenable and unjustifiable.

Advocate P.I. Davis argued on behalf of the petitioner that the said authority is duty-bound to upgrade their system and issue globally acceptable certificates.

The Deputy Solicitor General of India S. Manu submitted that the Regional Passport Office has no access to make changes in the computer system of the central database and incorporate the petitioner’s criminal case details.

The DSGI drew the attention of the Court to the existing Passport Seva Project System, as per which the Passport Issuing Authorities can generate a PCC through the system, with a barcode and scanned photograph as per the format extracted in the statement, only if no criminal case is registered against the applicant.

“In the instant case, as there is a pending crime against the petitioner, the first respondent is helpless to incorporate the criminal case details, the barcode and the scanned photograph of the petitioner. The first respondent (Regional Passport Office) is not in a position to alter the central computer system,” the DSGI argued, thus seeking the petition to be dismissed.

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