MEA adopts panel recommendations to make passport processing more humane.
New Delhi: In a major relief for single parents, and also separated couples or abandoned wives, the Ministry of External Affairs has made it easier for them to apply for a passport without the burden of providing additional paperwork. A passport applicant henceforth need to provide the name of only one parent and not both for getting a passport made.
This, the ministry said, would enable single parents to apply for passports for their children and would also lead to issuance of passports to those applicants who request that the name of either the father or the mother not be printed on their passport.
These changes are among a raft of suggestions made by a three-member committee comprising officials of the external affairs and the women and child development ministries. The panel was constituted to examine various issues pertaining to passport applications where the mother/child had insisted the name of the father should not be mentioned in the passport and also relating to passport issuance to children with single parent and to adopted children.
The Wire had in July this year reported on a single mother’s fight to get her daughter a passport without her husband’s name on it. Thousands of people came out to support Priyanka Gupta’s petition on Change.org in which she had demanded that her husband’s name not be put on her daughter Garima’s passport as the man had deserted her after the birth of a girl child. Garima too had come out strongly in support of her mother stating: “To me this petition is very important, because it’s for me only. I need my passport, it’s a necessity but I don’t want it with the name of a man who abandoned us because of my being a girl!”
Incidentally, several courts had also prior to that episode ruled that one parent’s name was sufficient for the purpose of getting a passport made. The Delhi high court had in May this year noted that a mother’s name was sufficient on a passport as long as she is a single parent.
The MEA has upon acceptance of the report of the committee announced a number of policy changes on the basis of its recommendations.
It has stated that in order to streamline, liberalise and ease the process of issuing passports, a number of steps have been taken in the realm of passport policy which are expected to benefit applicants.
Birth certificate no longer necessary
Till now, under the statutory provisions of the Passport Rules, 1980, all applicants born on or after January 26, 1989, had to submit their birth certificate as the proof of date of birth. It has now been decided that applicants can submit any of several documents like birth certificate; transfer/school leaving/matriculation certificate; PAN card; Aadhaar Card/E-Aadhaar; copy of the extract of the service record of the applicant (only in respect of government servants) or the pay pension order (in respect of retired government servants); driving licence; election photo identity card (EPIC) issued by the Election Commission of India; or policy bond issued by the public Life Insurance Corporations/companies as proof of date of birth. The condition applicable to all these documents is that they should bear the date of birth of the applicant.
Self-attestation allowed in most annexures
The ministry has also brought down the total number of annexes prescribed in the Passport Rules, 1980, to nine from the present 15. Annexes A, C, D, E, J, and K have been removed and certain Annexes have been merged. Moreover, since the applicants used to face a lot of difficulty in getting these documents attested or sworn before “Notary/Executive Magistrate/First Class Judicial Magistrate”, the provision has been removed. From now on, “all the annexes that are required to be given by the applicants would be in the form of a self declaration on a plain paper.”
Pain of Annexure K to now go away
Earlier this month, The Wire had reported how some applicants were facing great difficulty and humiliation in getting such annexures attested by gazetted officers. Following a report by The Wire in July this year about married women being required to submit a marriage certificate or affidavit at the time of passport creation or renewal, and divorced women a ‘divorce deed’ even when the husband’s name is not entered in passport, the ministry had clarified that Annexure K was a solution for such cases.
However, a resident of Uttar Pradesh going through a painful separation had subsequently alleged harassment due to the process, stating that the required magistrate’s attestation on the form had become another source of hassle and harassment for him.
The ministry has now stated that “married applicants would not be required to provide Annexure K or any marriage certificate”. Also, it said, the passport application form would no longer require the applicant to provide the name of her/his spouse in case of separated or divorced persons. Such applicants for passports would also not be required to provide even the divorce decree.
Norms simplified for orphans, those born out of wedlock
In the case of orphaned children who do not have any proof of date of birth such as a birth certificate or matriculation certificate or the declaratory court order, the ministry has stated that they may now submit a declaration given by the head of the orphanage/child care home on their official letter head of the organisation confirming the birth date of the applicant.
Further, in the case of children born out of wedlock, the applicant for the passport of such children should submit only Annexure G while submitting the passport application. And in case of issue of passport to in-country domestically adopted children, submission of the registered adoption deed would no longer be required. In the absence of any deed to this effect, the passport applicant may give a declaration on a plain paper confirming the adoption.
Guru’s name enough now for sadhus, sanyasis
In keeping with the Narendra Modi government’s ability to cater to the needs of sadhus and sanyasis, the MEA has also stated that they can now apply for a passport with the name of their spiritual guru mentioned in the passport application in lieu of their biological parent(s) name(s) subject to their providing at least one public document such as an election photo identity card (EPIC) issued by the ECI, PAN card, Aadhaar card, etc wherein the name of the guru has been recorded against the column(s) for parent(s) name(s).