Coming: orange passports sans parents’ names

Orange will be the colour of jackets of new general passports, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has announced, indicating a facelift for the blue booklet, essential for the Indian travellers.

The announcement came even as the Ministry is responding to a single mother’s application for her child’s passport, conducted extensive consultations and did away with the usual last page of the document, which contained names of parents, and home address of the applicant.

“..The passport holders with ECR (Emigration Check Required) status would be issued a passport with orange colour passport jacket and those with non-ECR status would continue to get a blue passport,” said the official spokesperson in a press release, indicating that only a handful of emigration check-exempt citizens will have the old blue jacket.

However, the passports that are in circulation would remain valid till the printed date of expiry in the booklet, the spokesperson said. Booklets with new orange jackets would be designed and printed at the Indian Security Press (ISP) in Nasik.

The announcement on the new look passport came along with the decision of the MEA to do away with the back page of the passport that has been subjected to criticism from single parents as it required names of both parents.

Decision follows panel report

“A three-member committee comprising officials of the MEA and the Ministry of Women and Child Development was constituted to examine various issues pertaining to passport applications where mother/child had insisted that the name of the father should not be mentioned in the passport and also relating to passport issued to children with single parent and to adopted children,” the spokesperson said, explaining that the decision was taken after the committee gave its report to the MEA.

However, sources said the application forms for new booklets of current passport holders would continue to capture the data of parents and postal addresses as mentioned in their previous booklets.

After consulting the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) regarding the compatibility of passport booklets minus the last page, with Machine Readable Travel Documents, the MEA said, “the last page of the passport and other travel documents issued under the Passports Act, 1967 and Passport Rules, 1980 would no longer be printed”.

Passports have been a key component of the Ministry of External Affairs under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Ministry has accelerated the process of printing and distributing passports to Indian citizens since the government came to power in May 2014.