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Where Mother Holds Exclusive Custody Of Minor, Passport Officer Can’t Insist On Father’s Consent : Karnataka High Court

Karnataka High Court ordered that the Regional Passport Officer cannot insist upon the presence of the father of the ward or for his consent for issuing a passport to the child. This was seen in the case of POULAMI BASU v. THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA (WRIT PETITION NO.14716 OF 2022) and the judgement was presided by A single judge bench of Justice Krishna S Dixit.

Facts of the case-

A plea was submitted before the court where a women was seeking direction to the passport authority to consider the application for issuance of passport in respect of her minor ward whose exclusive custody has been accorded to her by the Family Court.

The government had opposed the plea submitting that the grant of Passport is regulated by the Passport Act, 1967 and the Manual issued thereunder which has got statutory force. It was contended that the Manual prescribes consent of the estranged husband as a pre-condition for the grant of Passport moreover the said paragraph having not been challenged; the petition is liable to be rejected.

Judgement by the court-

The court said that once exclusive custody of a child is granted by the Family Court to a mother, the Regional Passport Officer is not justified in insisting upon the presence of the father of the ward or for his consent for issuing a passport to the child. According to the court – “Learned counsel for the petitioners are more than justified in contending that the Passport is only a travel document which enables the grantee to pass the port of his country and therefore it is not that passport per se that enables him to travel abroad sans Visa to be granted by the intended host country.”

Moving further the court noted that family Court has also granted a Divorce Decree in the subject matrimonial cause whereby limited visitation rights have been accorded to the ex-husband of the 2nd petitioner i.e., father of the ward.

Thereby it ordered – “Mere grant of Passport would not per se result into curtailment of visitation rights as such. Thus, the apprehension of the learned Sr. Panel Counsel appearing on behalf of the respondents that such curtailment would occur if visaless travel abroad is possible in select nation-States can be alleviated by prescribing prior permission of the Family Court.”

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Judgement reviewed by Alaina Fatima.

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