The Kerala High Court has said that in the modern world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) the government must stay abreast of emerging global demands and changes in order to fulfill the goal of a truly digital India.
"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. If our vision to have a digital India is to materialise, we must be willing to change every minute to catch up with the global world and not adopt a pedantic and rigid approach," the court said.
The judgment was passed on a plea moved by a person seeking to get a proper police clearance certificate issued by the regional passport officer in his favour.
The petitioner, working in Kuwait, was granted a police clearance certificate after he secured bail in a criminal case registered against him in connection with some matrimonial offences.
But the Kuwait Embassy refused to accept the certificate since it did not contain a barcode, a scanned photograph, or status of his criminal case.
Even after the petitioner approached the High Court previously and obtained an order directing the authorities to issue a proper certificate, the same was not done. This led to the present petition before the High Court.
But the passport authorities submitted that the certificates are issued from the system based on the Ministry of External Affairs database.
It was contended that the central database permits the certificates to be issued with barcodes and scanned photographs only if the applicant has no criminal antecedents; otherwise, only a manual certificate can be issued without the barcode and scanned photograph.
"A certificate with a barcode and scanned photograph quickly confirms the information and identifies the person from large databases by scanning or swiping the document. It also eliminates the cumbersome process of apostille stamping/attestation of the document by foreign missions. Barcodes also have high-security features and eradicate fraud," the court said.
The court directed the passport authorities to take up the matter with the competent authorities to make necessary modifications in the central system and also issue the appropriate certificate to the petitioner.
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