In the matter of Smita Maan and Anr v Regional Passport Officer a single mother and her young child who want the biological father’s name removed from the passport. It was said that the father had abandoned the pregnant mother. According to the terms of their agreement, neither the son nor the woman would receive alimony or maintenance, and the mother would have sole custody of the child.
The Delhi High Court single-judge bench Justice Prathiba M. Singh ordered the passport authority to remove the biological father’s name from a minor child’s passport, noting that the man had abandoned the child even before he was born and had given up all of his rights. Under certain circumstances, the name of the biological father can be deleted from the passport and the surname can also be changed.
The bench noted that there are certain circumstances in which it is acceptable to omit the name of the father from a minor’s passport, as recognised by the Passport Manual 2020 and the Office Memorandum (OM) issued by the Ministry of External Affairs in February 2022.
- Clause 4.1 expressly permits a single parent to submit a passport application without disclosing the identity of the other parent. It further said that the phrase “single parent” is used in clause 4.1.
- Clause 4.2 carves out a specific category relating to unwed single parents.
- Clause 4.3 states unequivocally that, in the case of married parents, the other single parent with custody of the child must provide the name of the father, regardless of the condition of the marriage, such as divorce, divorce pending, separation, etc. The father’s name does not, however, automatically have to be given because the name was simply provided. Each case’s specific circumstances would determine this.
The bench came to the decision that, depending on the factual situation that emerged in each case, such relief should be taken into consideration. There is no absolute law that can be followed. The application for the child’s passport may need to be taken into consideration by the authorities in a number of instances where there is a matrimonial conflict between the parents. It is therefore ordered that the name of the father be removed from the passport and that a new passport be issued in the child’s name, absent the father’s name, in light of the particular and unusual circumstances of this case.