The Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that a child’s passport can carry the stepfather’s name without a declaration by a court appointing him as a legal guardian. The ruling came on Wednesday on a petition filed by Mohit (26). The authorities had refused to issue him a passport bearing his stepfather’s name.
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The court observed that the marriage of Mohit’s biological parents, S M Arora and Nirmal Arora, was dissolved by a decree of divorce in 1996 by a court in Delhi and his custody was handed over to his mother, who re-married Ujjal Singh in 1997 and got their marriage registered at Panipat. It said Ujjal Singh’s name was “recorded as father” in the ration card, Mohit’s Aadhaar card, PAN card and school certificates.
Mohit had applied for a passport with his stepfather’s name. The passport authorities, however, relying on Chapter 8 of the Passport Manual Act, 2010, denied him passport in the name of his stepfather. The provision of the Act states that the name of the stepfather cannot be mentioned in the passport even on re-marriage after divorce unless he is appointed by the court as a legal guardian.
Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain said “the stepfather of the petitioner is his legal guardian for all intents and purposes for which there is no need to obtain an order from the court for his appointment as legal guardian until and unless the capacity of the stepfather, acting as a legal guardian, is challenged by the biological father, especially in a case where the custody is handed over by the court to the mother.”
He ordered the authority to issue to Mohit a passport bearing his stepfather’s name within a month.