Passport can carry stepfather’s name sans judicial orders: HC

CHANDIGARH: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that a judicial order was not required for including the stepfather’s name in a child’s passport.

editorial@tribune.com

Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 22

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that a judicial order was not required for including the stepfather’s name in a child’s passport. Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain also overruled objections by the passport authorities on mentioning a stepfather’s name after ruling that he was the child’s legal guardian for all intents and purposes.

The development is significant as the passport authorities were insisting that the stepfather’s name can be mentioned only after he is appointed a legal guardian by the court.

The ruling came in the case of a boy, whose custody was given to his mother after the parents obtained a decree of divorce in 1996. His mother re-married next year. At that time, the petitioner boy and his elder sister were both of a “tender age”.

The court was told that they were looked after by their stepfather, whose name was recorded as father in government records, including the ration card, Aadhaar card, PAN card and various school certificates. The elder sister’s passport, in any case, carried the stepfather’s name.

The petitioner also applied for a passport with the stepfather’s name but was told that it could be issued with his biological father’s name in view of the Passport Manual Act, 2010. The Act said the stepfather’s name could not be mentioned in the passport even on remarriage after divorce because the child’s relationship with his biological parents subsisted even after parting ways. But the stepfather’s name could be mentioned after he was appointed a legal guardian by the court.

Justice Jain asserted the petitioner has consistently been referred to as his stepfather’s son in the government records. His elder sister too was having a passport with the stepfather’s name. “Therefore, the stepfather was his legal guardian for all intents and purposes. There is no need to obtain an order from the court for his appointment as a legal guardian until and unless the capacity of the stepfather, acting as a legal guardian, is challenged by the biological father.

“Thus, in view of the facts and circumstances, the objection of the passport authority is overruled and a direction is issued to issue a passport to the petitioner mentioning his stepfather’s name within a month from receiving the order’s certified copy,” Justice Jain ruled.

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