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New passport application rules add options for single parents, sadhus(Livemint)

Sadhus/sanyasis (Hindu ascetics) can apply for a passport with the name of their spiritual guru in lieu of their biological parents.
 New Delhi: Acknowledging a changing social milieu and its reflection in paperwork, the ministry of external affairs on Friday unveiled a series of changes in the passport application process.

The online passport application form now requires the applicant to provide the name of only one parent as opposed to both in order to enable those with single parents to apply for passports.

This comes on the heel of reports over the past two years of passport offices insisting on the father’s name in the form even if the mother is a single parent.

“A three-member committee comprising of officials of the ministry of external affairs and the ministry of women and child development was constituted to examine various issues pertaining to passport applications. These pertain to single parents, parents with adopted children and instances where they did not want the inclusion of one parent. These are tricky issues, all factors were examined and the committee came up with useful suggestions,” minister of state for external affairs V.K. Singh said.

Other suggestions by the committee include the non-submission of a marriage certificate for married applicants.

“All the annexes that are required to be given by the applicants will now be in the form of a self-declaration on a plain paper. We have removed the requirement of attestation by a notary or executive magistrate. Our aim is to trust the citizen, trust the documents provided and their declaration will be honoured,” said Singh.

Apart from this, the ministry also announced that seven other options are now available to citizens applying for a passport instead of the mandatory birth certificate as the proof of date of birth. These include the PAN card, Aadhaar card, driving license, transfer/leaving or matriculation certificate issued by a school, a voter ID card, a policy bond issued by public life insurance corporations and service records in respect to government services apart from pay pension order attested by the officer in charge of the concerned ministry/department.

“One major concern was that the passport applicants said they don’t have birth certificates and they were finding it difficult to apply for a passport…change has been brought in to take care of this aspect. We have now extended the basket of documents in lieu of the birth certificate,” Singh said.

The minister also said rules and procedures are being reviewed as the needs are different now from what they were years ago when they were drafted.

However, one very interesting recommendation by the committee which has been accepted by the ministry has little to do with changing social mores.

Now sadhus/sanyasis (Hindu ascetics) can apply for a passport with the name of their spiritual guru in lieu of their biological parents. This will be acceptable if this change has been legally recognized on at least one public document such as an election photo identity card issued by the Election Commission of India, PAN card or Aadhar.

The ministry also announced the launch of Twitter Seva to provide real time service delivery and user interaction. This will essentially be an aggregator that will collate all the tweets addressed to the ministry for help and about 200 verified twitter accounts are commissioned to support the service.

This is to help Indians at home and abroad with speedy resolution of their visa and passport queries. “This amalgamation will assist us in ensuring that we provide much better response as well as get feedback via twitter seva. We have been on social media for a long time now and a lot of speed of our response has been because of this forum,” Singh said.

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