We recently came across a social media post which claimed that lawyers can use the IDs provided by the Bar Council of India as valid proofs for entry into airports for domestic flights.
The post quotes a notification that states ‘It is informed that an instruction has been issued to all Chief Airport Security Officers of all the airports under CISF security cover to accept the photo ID card issued by the Bar Council as a valid ID proof for entry in terminal buildings along with valid tickets as per Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) guidelines”.
This image was shared by twitter user @avijitsaxena87
If we do a basic search on the internet, we can easily trace these lines back to a letter dated 5th December, 2018. This letter was issued by the Office of the Additional Director General/Airport Sector, CISF to one Mr Mohit Kumar Gupta. This letter was carried by various websites in articles which were written back/last revised in 2018. However a copy of this letter is not available on the official website of CISF or BCAS currently (as checked on 26th December, 2021).
Some of the websites which carry this letter from 2018 include:
- Advocates ID card issued by Bar Council valid proof to enter Airport Terminals. dated Dec 8, 2018. <last accessed on Dec 26, 2021>
- Advocates ID Card Issued By Bar Councils Valid Identity Proof For Domestic Air Travel, Clarifies CISF dated Dec 8, 2018, <last accessed on Dec 26, 2021>
- Advocates can use ID issued by BCI to enter airport terminal dated dated Dec 7, 2018. <last accessed on Dec 26, 2021>
We then checked the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) website for circulars issued, unfortunately the links relating to IDs recognised by airport security were not functional as of 26th December, 2021.
However, we were able to get a clear answer from the official website of the CISF. The RTI section of the official CISF website has a document titled “Suo-Motu disclosures under section 4 of RTI ACT 2005: List of ID Cards to be produced by the passengers while travelling through the airports”
A screenshot of the CISF website as of 26th December, 2021
Clicking on this document takes us to a letter dated 7th January, 2020 issued by the Office of the Special Director General/Airport Sector, CISF. On page 3 of this pdf document it is clearly stated that Advocate’s Photo ID Card issued by Bar Council of India and Bar Councils of States or IDs issued by SEBI, MCI etc are not a valid photo identity document for entry into the airport’. This document can be accessed on this link.
Screenshot of first page of RTI reply dated Jan 7, 2020
Screenshot of relevant section of PDF
Therefore we can deduce, that although there may been a letter issued by CISF in 2018 which allowed IDs issued by Bar Council to be used as ID proof for entry into airports but as per the latest information issued by CISF as of January, 2020, which is available publicly on their website, it is clearly mentioned that IDs issued by Bar Council of India or by states are excluded as identity proofs for entry into airports.
There is an article in TOI dated August 24, 2019 that mentions that a circular was issued on August 20, 2019 which reduced the number of recognized IDs for entry into airports from 10 to 5, however the January 2020 RTI reply mentions 10 IDs which are allowed. It is possible that the August 2019 circular has been retracted or even if still in place it does not affect the recognition of Bar Council IDs as both the 2019 circular as well as the RTI reply of Jan 2020 exclude the recognition of IDs issued by Bar Council for entry into airports.