It's a move that will give wings to orphans' dreams of studying abroad. A recent order of the ministry of external affairs (MEA) says a birth certificate is not mandatory to process passport applications of orphans or abandoned children.
The passport issuing authorities while processing the applications of orphan/abandoned children born on or after January 26, 1989, may consider other documents produced by such an applicant as proof of date of birth, says the May 26 order of the MEA's consular, passport and visa (CPV) division.
The birth certificate rule had been robbing several orphans of glorious opportunities, say child rights activists. Children from orphanages were refused passport because they failed to produce a birth certificate from a civic body, they said.
On January 12, Hindustan Times had reported how a promising student Vandana, 23, an inmate of Mission for the Desperate and Destitute (MDD) near Karnal, had lost a chance to study management abroad.
Vandana graduated in commerce from a local private college in 2014. Impressed by her academic record, a Karnal- origin family in Canada decided to sponsor her higher studies. Vandana was close to achieving her dream, but the birth certificate rule proved to be a stumbling block for her.
Hailing the MEA's latest initiative, PR Nath, general secretary of the confederation of non-government childcare institutions, said: "It will certainly encourage individuals who are keen to adopt orphans and give them a good life."
According to the MEA circular, documents including matriculation certificate issued by duly recognised educational institution along with the bona fide 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, were valid for processing orphans' passport applications.