No gender bias, insensitivity in passport matters, says MEA

New Delhi, Oct 31 (IANS) India’s external affairs ministry Friday sharply rebutted reports that a single parent, especially a woman, is required to state, while applying for passport for her child, how she conceived the child, saying it does “not countenance insensitivity or gender discrimination” in passport matters.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin strongly denied a media report saying that a lawyer appearing for the ministry had told the Bombay High Court that an unwed mother applying for her child’s passport must declare how she became pregnant and if she was raped.
“I am shocked and appalled if you think that is the government of India view,” said the spokesman.
“We do not countenance gender bias or insensitivity in handling passport matters,” he said, and explained that in matters concerning a child with a single parent, the ministry asks for two documents.
“A birth certificate from the Registrar of Births on the birth of the child and an affidavit which the single parent has to swear before a judicial magistrate, which indicates that the name of the father should be left blank and not entered into the passport without his consent.”
“And to safeguard against cases of kidnapping the requirement is of affidavit of the mother that the child is hers and vice versa.”
According to a report, advocate Purnima Bhatia appearing for the ministry said an unwed mother while applying for passport for her child would have to file an affidavit stating “how she has conceived”, “if she was raped” and why she does not want the child’s father’s name included.
The lawyer made the statement before a division bench of Justices V.M. Kanade and Anuja Prabhudessai.