Sadhus and sanyasis can now mention names of their spiritual gurus instead of biological parents under new passport rules announced here today which also eliminate the mandatory requirement of the birth certificate as the proof of date of birth (DOB).
The rules, which were announced by Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh, also provides a provision for government servants, who are not able to get "no objection certificate" from their respective ministries/departments.
In order to streamline, liberalise and ease the process of issue of passport, the ministry has taken a number of steps in the realm of passport policy which is expected to benefit the citizens of India applying for a passport, Singh noted.
In case of proof of DOB while filing application, it has now been decided that all applicants of passports can submit any one of the documents --transfer/School leaving/ Matriculation Certificate, PAN card, Aadhaar Card/E-Aadhaar having the DOB of applicant, copy of the extract of the service record of the applicant, driving licence, Election Photo Identity Card (EPIC) or LIC policy bond.
Birth Certificate issued by the Registrar of Births & Deaths or the Municipal Corporation or any other prescribed authority whosoever has been empowered under the Registration of Birth & Deaths Act, 1969 to register the birth of a child born in India can also be given as DOB proof.
As per the extant statutory provisions of the Passport Rules, 1980, all the applicants born on or after January 26, 1989, had to mandatory submit the birth certificate as the DOB proof to get a passport.
The government has also accepted the demand by the sadhus/sanyasis that they should be allowed to write names of their gurus instead of names of their parents, Singh said, adding but they have to provide at least one public document such as EPIC, PAN card, Adhaar Card, etc wherein the name of the guru has been recorded against the column(s) for parent(s) name(s).
In case of government servants, who are not able to obtain the Identity Certificate/ No-Objection Certificate from their employer concerned and intend to get the passport on urgent basis can now get the passport by submitting a self- declaration that he/she has given prior Intimation letter to his/her employer informing that he/she was applying for an ordinary passport.
A report of a inter-ministerial committee with members from MEA and Women and Child Development ministry to examine issues pertaining to applications where mother/child has insisted that the name of the father should not be mentioned in the passport and also relating to children with single parent and to adopted children has also been accepted.
Based on the report, policy changes have been made which include no mandatory requirement of a marriage certificate for married applicants as also provide name of the only one parent and not both. This would enable single parents to apply for passports for their children and to also issue passports where the name of either the father or the mother is not required to be printed at the request of the applicant.
Under the new rules, total number of Annexes prescribed in the Passport Rule, 1980, has been brought down to 9 from the present 15 and all the annexes that are required to be given by the applicants would be self-declaration on plain paper.
"No attestation/swearing by/before any Notary/Executive Magistrate/First Class Judicial Magistrate would be henceforth necessary," as per the new rules, which also do not require the applicant to provide the name of her/his spouse in case of separated or divorced persons.
Such applicants would not be required to provide even the Divorce Decree.
Orphaned children who do not have any proof of DOB such as Birth Certificate or the Matriculation Certificate or the declaratory court order, may now submit a declaration given by the Head of the Orphanage/Child Care Home on official letter head of the organisation confirming the DOB of the applicant.
For children not born out of wedlock, the applicant should submit only self-declaration form while submitting the 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.
Asked about the rules applicable to get a passport for a child born through surrogacy, Chief Passport Officer Arun K Chatterjee said there was a specific list of documents required as per the Indian Council For Medical Research regulations.
Since the bill dealing with surrogacy is still pending before the Lok Sabha, changes can only be carried out after it is passed, he added.
Singh also said the necessary notifications would soon be published 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.
"MEA expects that the changes in the Passport Rules would further ease the process for passport applicants in getting their Passport.
"At the same time, it would enable this Ministry to continue to deliver passport related services to the citizens in a timely, transparent, more accessible, reliable manner and in a comfortable environment through streamlined processes and committed, trained and motivated workforce," Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
Singh also said the ministry was examining a pilot project under which the head post offices could be used to provide passport services.
On when will the passport services like 'Tatkal' can become cashless, Chatterjee said they have done a tie-up with SBI and were getting machines to make the service totally cashless and expressed hope it will start functioning in next fortnight or so.
He also mentioned that currently there were 89 passport seva kendras apart from 38 passport offices and seven passport centres in the country.