In a big relief to the Lucknow interfaith couple who had alleged harassment by a passport officer, their travel document has been approved after an internal probe found that the accused officer and the police exceeded their brief by asking irrelevant questions from them, PTI reported on Wednesday. “The passports of Tanvi Seth and Anas Siddiqui have been cleared,” Regional Passport Officer (RPO) Piyush Verma told PTI.
The couple had alleged harassment by a passport official, saying they were targeted because of their interfaith marriage. They had also shared their trauma on twitter and had tagged Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj for help, after which the officer was transferred to Gorakhpur.
The probe found that department official Vikas Mishra was wrong in asking the couple questions about their religion when they visited his office with their passport applications, sources told PTI. They said that police were also wrong in seeking details about their residence while conducting the verification process required for issuing a passport.
RPO Piyush Verma said there was no adverse report from the police after the verification of the couple under the Ministry of External Affairs guidelines. He said under the new MEA rules which came into force in June, the police report only on six points related to criminal antecedents and citizenship.
In an attempt to ease the police verification process, the MEA had reduced the number of questions applicants have to answer from nine to six, restricting the focus on any criminal antecedents, he said.
The controversy arose on June 20 when Tanvi Seth and Mohammad Anas Siddiqui, who have been married for 12 years, wrote on Twitter that they were humiliated at the passport office in Lucknow.
The local police sent their report to the RPO office on June 26, saying Tanvi Seth had been living in Noida, and not Lucknow as mentioned in her application, for the past one year.