NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court has held that in certain cases, mother’s name is sufficient for a child to apply for a passport , especially because a single woman can be a natural guardian as well as a parent.
Justice Manmohan earlier this week directed the Regional Passport Office to accept the application form of the girl child of a single parent without insisting upon mentioning her father’s name.
The court ruled that authorities “can insist upon the name of the biological father in the passport only if it is a requirement in law, like standing instructions, manuals, etc. In the absence of any provision making it mandatory to mention the name of one’s biological father in the passport, the respondents cannot insist upon the same”.
Justice Manmohan observed, “This court also takes judicial notice of the fact that families of single parents are on the increase due to various reasons like unwed mothers, sex workers, surrogate mothers, rape survivors, children abandoned by father and also children born through IVF technology.” He said just because the software of the passport office didn’t accept a single parent’s applications, it cannot become a legal requirement.
The HC also pointed out that on two previous occasions, in 2005 and 2011, the girl was issued a passport without her father’s name, which “makes it evident that the said requirement is not a legal necessity, but only a procedural formality, which cannot be the basis of rejecting her case”.
The court saw merit in the argument of the petitioner that if the authorities didn’t alter their stand, her daughter would be compelled “to alter not only her name, but also her identity that she had been using since her birth-i.e. as the daughter of the petitioner No.1 rather than her biological father who had abandoned her at the time of her birth”. The father had refused to accept the child because he did not want a girl, the petition added.
In her plea, the woman sought a reissue of her daughter’s passport without her father’s name being mentioned in the application. She informed the HC that being a divorcee, she had raised the child as a single parent since her birth after the biological father completely abdicated his responsibilities towards the child. Saying she was forced to move court after passport authorities insisted on the father’s name, the woman argued it violated her daughter’s rights to determine her name and identity. She also pointed out that the entire record of her daughter, including her educational certificates and the Aadhaar card did not bear the name of her father.
Defending its format, the RPO said the computerised passport application form had a column with regard to father’s name under the heading “family details”. The government’s lawyer said the format makes it compulsory for the girl applicant to fill the form and mention these details. The RPO cited a clause in the rule book that said “parents’ name not to be deleted from passport as a consequence of divorce” and argued it is a well-recognised principle of law that the relationship between parents and children does not get dissolved, except in cases of valid adoption.