IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


6th May, 2024 Polity


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Picture Courtesy: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/travel/destinations/types-of-passport-every-traveller-in-india-should-know-of/articleshow/62630074.cms

Context: A Member of Parliament recently fled to Germany using a diplomatic passport, benefiting from India's visa exemption agreement with Germany for diplomatic passport holders.

Diplomatic Passport

  • A diplomatic passport is a type of passport issued to individuals who are engaged in official government duties or represent the government abroad.
  • These passports are identified by their maroon covers and are granted certain privileges and immunities under international law.
  • Diplomatic passports are usually valid for a shorter period compared to regular passports, often for five years or less.
  • Holders of diplomatic passports are entitled to specific privileges and immunities as per international law. These include:
    • Immunity from arrest, detention, and certain legal proceedings in the host country.
    • Certain exemptions from customs duties and taxes while travelling on official duties.
  • Diplomatic passports are issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to individuals falling into specific categories:
    • Those with diplomatic status, such as ambassadors, diplomats, and consular officers.
    • Government-appointed individuals travelling abroad for official business.
    • Officers working in the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) at specific ranks (Joint Secretary and above).
    • Relatives and immediate family members of IFS and MEA officers.
    • Select individuals authorized to undertake official government travel, including union ministers and Members of Parliament (MPs) representing the government.
  • The validity of diplomatic passports often coincides with the term of the MP or the official holding the passport. For example, a diplomatic passport issued to an MP remains valid as long as they hold the parliamentary position.

Visa Exemption Agreements

  • Visa exemption agreements between countries allow holders of diplomatic passports to travel to certain countries without obtaining a visa for a specified
  • India has operational visa exemption agreements with several countries, including Germany. This agreement allows Indian diplomatic passport holders to visit Germany for up to 90 days without requiring a visa.

Political Clearance

  • Despite visa exemptions, individuals using diplomatic passports for private visits are often required to obtain prior political clearance from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
  • Political clearance is typically obtained through an online portal managed by the MEA. It ensures that the visit aligns with government policies and does not compromise diplomatic relations.

Revocation of Diplomatic Passport

  • The Passport Act 1967 specifies conditions under which a diplomatic passport can be revoked, including:
    • Obtaining the passport through suppression of material information.
    • Actions deemed necessary to safeguard India's sovereignty, integrity, or friendly relations with other countries.
    • Conviction by an Indian court with a sentence of imprisonment for not less than two years.
  • Revocation of a diplomatic passport often requires a court order. The passport authority can impound or revoke a passport based on legal directives and the specific circumstances of the case.


  • A diplomatic passport is a specialized travel document issued to government officials, diplomats, and authorized individuals for official duties abroad. It provides specific privileges and immunities, and its issuance and usage are governed by legal and diplomatic protocols outlined in the Passport Act and international agreements.


Indian Express


Q. Consider the following statements:

1. Diplomatic passports are issued to government-appointed officials travelling abroad for official business.

2. Diplomatic passports have maroon covers, while regular passports have dark blue covers.

3. Holders of diplomatic passports are generally entitled to immunity from arrest and detention in the host country under international law.

How many of the above statements are correct?

A) Only one

B) Only two

C) All three

D) None

Answer: C