The government relaxed on Friday rules to enable sadhus and sanyasis to get passports without providing the names of their biological parents, making it easier for them to get the important document to travel abroad.
The seers have been allowed to fill out their passport forms with the names of their spiritual gurus instead of parents, provided these match with those on at least one document such as voter card, PAN card or Aadhar card.
The minister of state for external affairs, General VK Singh (retd), who announced the new rules, said the government had accepted the demand made by the holy men that they be allowed to write the names of their gurus.
The mandatory requirement of submitting the birth certificate to obtain a passport has also been done away with.
The new rules allow applicants to submit any government document that bears their dates of birth such as school-leaving certificate, driving licence, PAN card, Aadhar card, voter card and even a policy bond issued by public life insurance corporations.
Till now, applicants born on or after January 21, 1989, couldn’t be issued passports without a birth certificate.
Another key step aimed at simplifying the process is that attestation by magistrate or notary will no longer be necessary. Self declaration on plain paper will do.
Single parents, divorced or separated people and adopted children also stand to benefit from the changes.
Singh said changes had been introduced after the government accepted the report of a three-member panel tasked with examining issues relating to cases where the mother or child did not want the father’s name mentioned, children of single parents and adopted children. Officials from the MEA and women and child development ministry were on the panel.
The online passport application form now requires the applicant to provide the name of only one parent. Married applicants won’t be required to furnish a marriage certificate. For domestically adopted children, there will no need to submit a registered adoption deed. The applicant may give a declaration confirming the adoption.
The number of annexes prescribed in the Passport Rules, 1980, has been trimmed from 15 to nine.
The foreign ministry said the change in rules would enable it to deliver passport-related services in a timely, transparent and more accessible manner.
The rules also have a provision for government employees who are not able to get a no-objection certificate from their employer but need to get the passport urgently. They can get the passport by submitting self-declaration papers informing that they have sent a prior intimation letter to the employer.
Minister Singh launched a Twitter service for quicker resolution of visa and passport queries. The handle will be supported by 198 Twitter accounts of Indian missions abroad and 29 regional passport offices.