Ministry of External Affairs directed to amend the Passport Manual to incorporate additional columns indicating the names of adoptive or step parents

Madras High Court: Taking note of the present scenario of changing relations between the families and society equally affecting the development of law, the Court directed the Ministry of External Affairs to amend the Passport Manual for incorporating additional columns in the passport application to enable the parties to indicate either the names of the adoptive parents or the step parents or all of them along side their biological parents or as the situation demands.

In the instant case the divorcee petitioner re-married and accordingly gave her minor daughter in adoption to her new husband. The petitioner then applied for the passport of her minor daughter, but with the completion of formalities exceeding the permissible time limit of 30 days the petitioner made enquiries and found out that the application was kept pending on account of the discrepancy between the name of the biological father and the name of the father indicated in the application form. The counsel for the respondents N. Ramesh contended that by way of Circular No.VI/401/01/05/2008, the name of the step father or stepmother of a child cannot be written in the passport of the children, he further contended that even in case the parents are divorced there can be no severance of relationship between the parents and a child therefore it may not be possible to change the name of the father of the minor child, as the same may conflict with the name indicated in the birth certificate of the child. The petitioner’s counsel referred various case laws and put forth the contention that it is possible to change of name of the father of the minor child. The Court however dismissed the cases cited by the petitioner counsel as irrelevant to the issue at hand.

On perusal of the issue in dispute in the present case the Court observed that issues of this kind are going to crop up in future as well, therefore the Government should be vigilant to take note of the societal changes and enact suitable laws. The Court chose to take note of legal system of USA and UK where the authorities have been careful to affect changes the passport application recognizing the diversity in family formations. The Court ordered the respondents to issue the passport to the petitioner’s minor daughter by indicating the name of the adoptive father as the stepfather in the column reserved for filling up the name of the father as the petitioner had not fulfilled the criteria of valid adoption under Section 9(3) of Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1965. B.S. Deepa v. Regional Passport Officer, 2015 SCC OnLine Mad 108, decided on 23.01.2015

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