Adoptive father’s name of a minor okay for passport, says Bombay HC
Observing the passport authorities are not considering the adoption details of children, the Bombay High Court Monday directed the city’s Regional Passport Office (RPO) to accept a minor’s application for issuance of a passport.
The child’s application was earlier rejected as it had the adoptive father’s name instead of his biological father. Justices A S Oka and G S Kulkarni observed that the RPO did not “apply its mind” in the case and had gone against the provisions the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956.
The bench directed the passport officer to decide on the application within 45 days from Monday. The HC observed the RPO’s stand was in view of the divorce decree of the child’s parents and the deed of adoption. However, this is in “complete contradiction” to the clear provisions of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956, the HC said.
The HC was acting on a petition filed by a Malad-based woman who sought HC’s directions to the RPO to accept application of her son for issuance of passport.
In response to the application submitted by the petitioner, the passport officer had sent her a letter on May 6, 2014, informing her that she had mentioned the name of the second spouse as the child’s father. Citing standing instructions of the Ministry of External Affairs, the officer stated that in the event of a re-marriage after divorce, the name of stepfather or mother “cannot be written” in the passport of children from the previous marriage. The letter also stated that the relationship of the child to his biological parents “subsists even after divorce by parents and that it is also not possible to leave the column of father or mother blank” in the passport in such cases. He also said that if the stepfather or stepmother is appointed by a court as legal guardian, the name of such stepparent can be written as legal guardian.
“The communication dated May 6, 2014, does not take into consideration these requirements of law and hence cannot be applied when there is a valid adoption in question. In cases where there is a valid adoption as per the provisions of the Act, the passport authority cannot insist that the applicant furnish the name of the biological parents,” the judges observed. The HC further said that such insistence “obliterates the status of a person” as created by a valid adoption and “nullifies the deed of adoption”, which has all the sanctity and validity in view of the said provisions of the Act.
After the adoption, the child’s name was changed to insert the name of the adoptive father.
This change in the name was notified in the Gazette of the Government of Maharashtra dated May 27, 2009. The school record, Aadhar card and a PAN card was also issued in the same name.