Friday, December 11, 2015

Gujarat passport office "adds" to woes of abandoned children, doesn't know birth certificate isn't mandatory

By Our Representative
Does the passport office in Gujarat, widely proclaimed as a “model” state, not know that orphan/abandoned children are exempted from the mandatory requirement of submission of a birth certificate along with passport application form? It would seem so if what happened on Friday is any indication.
A senior activist of Ahmedabad-based non-government organization (NGO), who has adopted a girl child, has told Counterview that she approached the Gujarat passport office for finding out the procedure for getting a passport for her, but was "shocked" to find later that the officials do not know about it.
“Today, I went to passport office and they said they will not proceed without a birth certificate – I was about to file a writ and came across a government notification, about which the passport officials not aware”, the activist said.
“Now I want other parents to know so that they are not harassed”, the activist said, adding, “Those of us who adopt such children struggle hard for getting passports of our kids, for which they insist on birth certificates which is not available – so people end up bribing, finding various means for getting one.”
Saying that all this is clearly “psychologically damaging for the mother as well as the child”, the activist quoted from the Ministry of External Affairs notification, dated May 26, 2015, which says that the birth certificate is no longer necessary if the child is an orphan or has been abandoned, provided she or he is born on or after January 26, 1989.
The notification (click HERE) says that, the ministry in its circular dated February 14, 1989, had decided that all the applicants born or after January 26, 1989, would “mandatorily require to provide a birth certificate issued by the Municipal Authority or the Registrar of Births & Deaths as proof of date of birth along with the passport application form.”
The May 2015 notification says, “In the recent past, a number of references have been received from various orphanages/childcare homes and legal experts highlighting the plight of those orphan/abandoned children born on or after January 26, 1989, who could not get the passport facilities in the absence of mandatory birth certificate in support of their date of birth proof.”
“Such children are unable to obtain the birth certificates as the names of biological parents are not known to them and the precise date of birth cannot be ascertained”, the notification says, adding, “Various representations have been received in the Ministry for relaxing the statutory condition of production of birth certificate for passport in respect of such orphan/abandoned children.”
On considering such requests/representations, the notification says, “It has been decided that the Passport Issuing Authorities (PIAs) while processing the case of orphan/abandoned children born on or after January 26, 1989”, may consider providing any of the optional certificates along with their passport application.
These include:
  • Copy of the birth certificate, or
  • Date of birth recorded in the matriculation certificate issued by duly recognized/affiliated educational institution along with the bonafide certificate duly sworn by the Head of the orphanage/childcare home (in case of minor) or by applicant himself (in case of major) before the First Class Judicial Magistrate/Executive Magistrate categorically stating his/her date of birth/place of birth; or 
  • Declaratory Court order issued by the court of competent jurisdiction recording the date of birth/place of birth of such an applicant in the order.
Insisting that “all PIAs In India and abroad are requested to comply with the above instructions”, the notification has been signed by India’s Chief Passport Officer.

No comments: