The Ministry of External Affairs today changed the rules of the issuance of new passports to ease the process of the application and delivery of passports. The rules have been tweaked to allow Aadhar cards and e-Aadhar cards to qualify as proof of date of birth, gives choices to divorced and separated women to not reveal the names of their spouses and does away with the requirement of a certificate of non-consent from a parent for a child born out of wedlock. These changes have been made keeping in mind the changing social dynamics and the fact that 12 million passport applications were made last year, which entails a huge and cumbersome process to deal with. The changes were announced by the MoS for External Affairs Gen (Retd) V K Singh.
The changes were the result of a report of a three-member Committee comprising of officials from the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Women and Child Development to ensure that there was no partisanship when it came to issuing passports. Major highlights of the changes in the rules include:
- First-time applicants who will furnish an Aadhaar card or an Electoral Photo Identity Card (EPIC) or a PAN card along with a signed affidavit of non-criminality will receive faster passport services.
- The Passport application form will not require the applicant to provide the name of her/his spouse in case of separated or divorced persons. Conversely, married applicants will not have to provide marriage certificates.
- Children who are orphaned, adopted or born out of wedlock will not have to face the same scrutiny they had to earlier. The Passport acquisition has been made smoother for them. A Birth Certificate or a Matriculation Certificate can now be submitted along with a declaration by the Head of the Orphanage/Child Care Home on their official letterhead.
- Earlier rules mandateda request for change of DOB only after five years had passed post issuance. This will streamline the process and will make the process faster.
- Sadhus or Sanyasis (Monks) can now apply for a passport with the name of their spiritual Guru mentioned in the passport application in lieu of their biological parents’ names. They must show at leat one identity proof like an EPIC.
- The ministry in association with the committee is also exploring the possibility of making amendments in the Passport Rules, 1980, in order to make simplifications in the process of documentation.
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Further details can be obtained at the official site for the Passport Seva here. There had been some criticism earlier when single parents did not have the same rights when obtaining a passport as opposed to other applicants. This will see a sea change. The new rules will also enable the use of digital signatures to apply for a passport or when depositing documents for the same.