File photo: An Indian passenger holds up her passport. Photograph: (AFP)
People with no age proof, separated or divorced individuals and orphans, are but a few beneficiaries of the relaxed norms
India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Friday (December 23) announced a slew of new provisions aimed at streamlining and easing the passport application process.
Of the many changes that have been introduced, two stand out in particular. From now on, the applicant will need to provide the name of only one parent (and not both) or that of a legal guardian while applying for a passport. Also, documents like PAN card, Aadhar card, driving licence, election photo identity card, matriculation (Class X) certificate and school-leaving certificates will now be accepted as proof of date of birth.
The provision of allowing the name of only one parent and not both is essentially aimed at enabling single parents to apply for passports for their children. It is also aimed at tackling situations wherein an applicant doesn't want the name of either of the parents to be printed on the passport.
Till now, as per the provisions of Passport Rules, 1980, all applicants born on or after January 26, 1989 had to mandatorily submit the birth certificate as the proof of their date of birth while applying for a passport.
Following the amended rules, it has now been decided that applicants would be allowed to submit any one of the documents from a list of newly included categories.
Under the newly-introduced changes, the total number of annexes prescribed in the Passport Rule, 1980 have also been brought down from the present 15 to nine. While annexes A, C, D, E, J, and K have been removed, certain annexes have been merged. Further, 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 and would not require any attestation.
Also, married applicants who are unable to provide the prescribed marriage certificate or joint affidavit with spouse due to marital discord, separation or without formal divorce decree by the court or due to total desertion by the spouse, while applying for the issue or renewal of a passport, will now not be required to provide the Annexure K or any marriage certificate.
Additionally, the passport application form, from now on, will not require the applicant to provide the name of the spouse in case they have separated or divorced. Such applicants would not be required to provide the Divorce Decree.
Orphaned children who do not have any proof of date of birth will now be allowed to submit a declaration given by the head of the orphanage or the care home on their official letterhead of the organisation confirming their age.
Furthermore, sadhus and sanyasis (spiritual persons) will now be allowed to apply for a passport with the name of their spiritual guru mentioned in the passport application in lieu of their biological parent's name subject to their providing of at least one public document such as Election Photo Identity Card (EPIC) issued by the Election Commission of India, PAN card, Adhaar Card, etc wherein the name of the Guru has been recorded against the column for parent's name.
The government will soon publish the necessary notifications in the Official Gazette to give effect to these changes. Instructions are also being issued to the Passport Issuing Authorities in India and abroad on these revised regulations.