With single parents, adopted and orphan kids facing problems in procuring passports, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj asked passport officials on Friday to have a pragmatic approach in considering such cases and emphasised on changing “impractical” laws.
Stressing on relaxing norms while opening passport offices in far-flung areas, Swaraj said her ministry is also conducting a survey that will take into account the population in an area and how much distance people have to commute to reach passport offices. A decision to open a passport office will be based on this parameter.
Addressing a conference attended by passport officials, Swaraj and Union minister of women and child development Maneka Gandhi flagged a problem when the passport office demands birth certificates in case of orphans.
“From where will they have a birth certificate? We don’t accept the birth dates given by orphanages. Had there been a birth certificate, then why would a child be an orphan? He is an abandoned child. From where will he get birth certificate?”
“So the laws and by-laws need to be viewed pragmatically. If it’s impractical then change it and include the same in the policy,” Swaraj said.
Citing an example of Himachal Pradesh, which only has one passport office, she said that although a small state with less population, it becomes difficult for people to commute large distances to procure the travel document.
“We have to relax norms for such places and open more passport offices,” Swaraj said, noting that the government has fulfilled its promise of opening passport offices in all the northeastern states.
She said one of the reasons for conducting the survey is to ensure that people don’t have to commute longer distance for procuring the travel document.
Lauding the work of the passport officials, Swaraj said over 1.20 crore people were issued passports last year.
She said rising number of people working in the Gulf was one of the reasons behind the hike in issuing of passports.
“Another reason is more youngsters are now going abroad. So there is an insistence that their parents get the passport at the earliest,” she said.