Authorities cannot insist upon mentioning the name of one's biological father in passport as mother's name is sufficient in certain cases where she is a single parent, the Delhi High Court has said.
"In the absence of any provision making it mandatory to mention the name of one's biological father in the passport, the respondents (passport authorities) cannot insist upon the same," Justice Manmohan said.
The court also took note of the fact that families of single parents were on increase due to various reasons "like unwed mothers, sex workers, surrogate mothers, rape survivors, children abandoned by father and also children born through IVF (in vitro fertilisation) technology".
"Consequently, this court is of the view that mother's name is sufficient in certain cases like the present one to apply for passport, especially as a single woman can be a natural guardian and also a parent," it said.
The order came on a woman's plea seeking re-issuance of her daughter's passport without insisting upon her father's name being mentioned in the application. The woman claimed that she was divorced from her husband, who had refused to accept her daughter as she was a girl. She said she was a single parent since her daughter's birth in 1997.
She contended that insistence of passport authority on mentioning father's name in the application was violative of the rights of her daughter to determine her name and identity.
The woman also said that entire record of her daughter, including her educational certificates, did not bear the name of her father and the passport authority had in 2005 and subsequently in 2011 issued a passport without insisting upon the father's name.
The counsel appearing for regional passport officer told the court that computerised passport application form has a column regarding father's name and it must be filled.
The court observed that authorities can insist upon the name of biological father in the passport "only if it is a requirement in law, like standing instructions, manuals etc".
Regarding the contention raised by the passport authority that computer would not accept application form without name of father being filled up, the court directed them to modify their software saying, "technology is intended to ease and facilitate transactions and cannot be the basis for creating and defeating anybody's legal rights."
It also noted that on previous two occasions, passport was issued to the girl without insisting upon her father's name and it was "evident that the said requirement is not a legal necessity but only a procedural formality".