Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday asked the Centre to consider amending guidelines in the passport manual with regards to issuing of passports to children of unmarried women and other similarly-placed cases so that genuine persons do not face any problem.
A bench of Justices VM Kanade and AR Joshi, while placing the matter for hearing on 16 March, said it would frame guidelines for passport authorities to follow while issuing passports to children of unwed women.
Raju Moray, advocate for the petitioner, outlined the compilation of issues which need to be addressed – biological father, adoptive father or step-father, children of divorced parents or those fighting for divorce and orphans adopted.
These issues are raised while considering the passport applications of children of unmarried women, children not wanting to put their biological fathers’ name in passport application and cases in which fathers don’t want their names to be included in the children’s applications.
“Why is there an insistence on the part of an applicant to mention the name of his/her biological father? Can the passport authority insist on the biological father’s name in cases of unwed mothers or victims of rape?” he said.
Moray also asked whether any international convention, treaty or covenant requires it.
Passport authorities insist that the step father legally adopt the child in whose name the passport is sought. However, in such cases there is a bar when the child attains majority.
“What if the child has attained majority and is hence not adoptable? Is insistence on the adoption of a major child justified, especially when a major cannot legally be adopted in view of the aforesaid provisions?” asked Moray.
The bench is hearing a bunch of petitions challenging rejection of applications after the regional passport office insisted on use of biological fathers’ name in the column meant for “father”.
The bench was of the opinion that the issue will come up again and again in several matters.
On January 23, the bench was informed that passports were subsequently issued to the petitioners.