Will bring in policy for fresh passports after gender change, HC told | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Will bring in policy for fresh passports after gender change, HC told

By, New Delhi
Nov 14, 2023 06:04 AM IST

The government will formulate a policy so that citizens who undergo gender affirmation procedures overseas can be issued fresh passports recording their gender and name changes without facing difficulties, the home ministry has told the Delhi high court.

The government will formulate a policy so that citizens who undergo gender affirmation procedures overseas can be issued fresh passports recording their gender and name changes without facing difficulties, the home ministry has told the Delhi high court.

The letter was filed before the court in response to a plea by a transgender woman. (HT file)
The letter was filed before the court in response to a plea by a transgender woman. (HT file)

In an affidavit, the ministry said it already had the biometric details of passport holders. “…Since the biometrics are not liable to change after undergoing such medical procedures, a mechanism/ policy may be developed by MEA (ministry of external affairs), as the biometric records (of Indian citizens) are available with MEA/RPO (regional passport office), to verify their identity before issuance of new passports,” the ministry said in a October 4 document signed by the deputy secretary overseeing immigration.

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The letter was filed before the court in response to a plea by a transgender woman, Anahita Chaudhary, seeking to direct the authorities to reissue her a passport with revised particulars, including a new name and gender.

She transitioned between 2016 and 2022 in the US, after which she was able to legally secure a change of name and gender by way of a court order. But when she submitted her application to the Indian authorities for fresh passport, it took six months for the changes to take place, Chaudhary said in her plea.

Taking note of the difficulties faced by Indian citizens who travel abroad to undergo a gender affirmation procedures but face challenges while coming back to the country due to the change in name, sex and appearance, the court on August 28 asked the central government to apprise the court of the steps taken to facilitate the return of such persons.

“There should be some method by which such persons should be able to get back to the country so that their particulars in their passport can get changed,” the court had said.

On November 7, the Centre, appearing through counsel Farman Ali Magray, produced before the court two letters dated October 4 received from the deputy immigration secretary and the external affairs ministry.

The Bureau of Immigration (BOI) stated that it agreed with foreign ministry’s suggestions to allow such persons to apply for a re-issuance of passport at concerned Indian mission abroad as per the prescribed procedure for a change in gender, name and appearance and had further suggested that the foreign ministry develop a mechanism to verify their identity.

“A letter from the concerned embassy addressed to BOI, to facilitate immigration clearance in such cases, is also required to avoid any confusion at the ICPs. However, since the suggestion pertains to developing a new mechanism/policy, this Ministry needs time to thoroughly examine the same with different stakeholders including technical feasibility,” the letter said.

Taking note of the letters, a bench of justice Subramonium Prasad posted the matter for December 19 for further consideration.

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