Childs Passport Can Carry Step Father’s Name without Step-Father Being Declared the Legal Guardian

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Mohit

v.

Union of India

(2016, SCC OnLine  P&H 10157, decided on 16/11/2016)

FACTS

The marriage of the Petitioner’s natural parents was dissolved by a decree of divorce and the custody of both children was handed over to the mother who eventually re-married.  At the time of re- marriage of his mother the Petitioner was 7 years old and his elder sister was 9 years old who have been brought up by the mother and the stepfather, whose name is recorded as the father of the Petitioner in the ration card, Adhar card, PAN Card even passport. The Petitioner filed this petition seeking a mandamus declaring the action of the respondents as illegal in not issuing the passport in the name of his stepfather.

ISSUES BEFORE THE COURT

Para 4.4 Chapter 8 of the Passport Manual Act,2010 states that in the event of re-marriage the name of the stepfather/stepmother cannot be written in the passport of children from the previous marriage. The relationship of the child with his biological parents subsists. However, the name of the step-father can be mentioned after he is appointed by the Court as legal guardian.

Whether in the given facts and circumstances where the step-father is acting as a legal guardian of the Petitioner since he was 7 years old, it requires a declaration by the Court for the purpose of recording his name or his father/legal guardian in the passport?

HELD

The Court relying on  Shalu Nigam v. The Regional Passport Officer, 2016 SCC OnLine Del 3023  andPrerna Katia v. Regional Passport Office Chandigarh, CWP No.26805 of 2015, observed that the since the step-father has been taking care of the family and his name is recorded as a father of petitioner in various government record, therefore, the step-father 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. Thus, the Court overruled the objection of the passport authorities and issued a direction to issue the passport to the petitioner mentioning his step-father’s name.

LEARNING OUTCOMES

The stepfather has looked upon the Petitioner consistently since he was 7 years old and his name has been recorded in the various government records.Therefore the step-father is his legal guardian from all purpose and intents for which there is no need to obtain an order from the Court for his appointment as legal guardian unless challenged by the biological father.

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