Indian Railways to permit photocopies of ration cards, bank passbooks as IDs

Indian railways has slightly relaxed its new rule that all reserved passengers must carry original IDs.

Under the new, relaxed rule, they can now carry an attested copy of their ration card (if it contains their photo), or an attested copy of their passbook at a government-owned Bank, such as the State Bank of India. For all other IDs, such as driving licenses, PAN cards etc, photocopies will not be allowed, and they must be produced in the original.

The relaxation comes a month after Railways tried to crack down on touts. In India, a large part of railway tickets are bought in advance by ‘travel agents’ under fictitious names such as ‘Rajesh’ and ‘Priya’, and stored. These tickets are then resold for double their value before the date of journey approaches.

Passengers who cannot use any other means of transport buy these tickets from ‘travel agents’. To crack down, Indian railways mandated that all reserved passengers, including those who hold ‘normal’ tickets, have to carry an accepted personal ID in the original.

This, however, led to problems for some passengers, especially those from the lower strata of the society who normally did not have any easily portable identification papers. Often, their only ID is ration cards. However, carrying a ration card is not plausible as it has to be produced every week to buy rations.

As a result, the new rule has been introduced, allowing for a certified copy of the ration card. Passengers can get their ration card photocopies certified by a gazetted government officer, or by a railway official at the rank of chief reservation supervisor or station manager or station master.

It must be noted that the relaxation, which will come into effect on 15 January, is available only for the non-AC classes (sleeper and sitting.)

“This relaxation applies only to Ration Card and Nationalized Bank Pass Book and not in case of other types of proofs of identity cards for which only original proof will be required during journey,” Indian Railways said.

The relaxation will not apply to any passengers who book their ticket online.