Requirement of father’s name of applicant not mandatory for issuing passport, mother’s name sufficient

Delhi High Court: Allowing the petition wherein the petitioner had sought reissuance of her daughter’s passport without insisting upon the father’s name being mentioned in the application form, the Bench of  Manmohan, J. held that “mother’s name is sufficient in certain cases like the present one to apply for passport, especially as a single woman can be a natural guardian and also a parent”.

The petitioner had contended that after her divorce, she had raised her daughter as a single parent since her birth on August 24, 1997 as the biological father had completely abdicated his responsibilities towards her daughter. The respondents’ insistence upon her daughter mentioning her father’s name in the application violated her rights to determine her name and identity. She pointed out that the entire record of Petitioner 2 (daugther) which included her educational certificates and aadhar card, etc. did not bear the name of her father. She submitted that if the directions sought for in the present petition are not issued,  her daughter would be compelled to alter her identity that she had been using since her birth as daughter of Petitioner 1 rather than of her biological father. According to her, through the malafide, arbitrary and discriminatory decision of the respondents, Petitioner 2 was being compelled to mention the name of her biological father who had refused to accept her because she is a female child. She emphasised that the respondents had originally in the year 2005 and subsequently in 2011 issued a passport without insisting upon Petitioner 2’s father.

The Court was of the opinion that “the respondents 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. In the present case, there is no legal requirement for insisting upon the father’s name”.

As regards the respondent’s contention that the computer does not accept the application form without the name of the father being filled up, the Court was informed by the learned Amicus Curiae Shri Amit Bansal that the online passport application as updated on 29th January, 2016 provides that in the column of Family Details, only one detail out of the details of father/mother/legal guardian, is mandatory and required to be filled. The Court observed that technology is intended to ease and facilitate transactions and cannot be the basis for creating and defeating anybody’s legal rights. If the only impediment, in way of granting the relief sought by the petitioners, is the software, the same ought to be suitably modified to accept the application of Petitioner 2, if she is otherwise entitled for re-issuance of the passport.

The Court observed that the fact that the respondents had on previous two occasions, in 2005 and 2011 issued passport to Petitioner 2, without insisting on father’s name, 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. Consequently, legally and factually there was no impediment in issuing the passport to Petitioner 2, without mentioning her father’s name. The respondents were directed to modify their software and accept her application and issue her a passport without insisting upon mentioning her father’s name. [Shalu Nigam v. Regional Passport Officer, Writ Petition (C) No. 155 of 2016 and CM Appls. Nos. 684-685 of 2016, decided on May 17, 2016]

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