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MEA separates ‘facts from fiction’ in inter-faith couple passport case

The government on Thursday sought to put an end to the controversy over the passports issued to an inter-faith couple in Lucknow recently saying that all existing norms were followed in issuing the passport to Tanvi Seth.

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

The government on Thursday sought to put an end to the controversy over the passports issued to an inter-faith couple in Lucknow recently saying that all existing norms were followed in issuing the passport to Tanvi Seth.

At a press briefing in New Delhi, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar noted that in the last couple of weeks, a lot of misinformation has been going around in the matter related to the issue of passport to Tanvi.

He then went on taking the media step by step through the case, saying there was a need to separate “facts from fiction”. Kumar said that Tanvi had submitted her passport application at the Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) in Lucknow on 20 June. The passport was issued to her after careful examination of the documents submitted and following due process as per the Passport Act.

Since the passport was issued on a post-Police Verification (PV) basis, a police verification was carried out. The PV report sent to the Regional Passport Office (RPO) at Lucknow was to be based on a decision taken in December 2017 that PV would be undertaken only on two points – whether the applicant was a citizen of India and whether the applicant has any criminal case pending against him/her.

He said these two aspects were converted into a six-point PV form. This decision to implement PV norms from 1 June was communicated to DGPs of all states.

In the Tanvi Seth case, there was no adverse report on all six points mentioned in the revised form. However, the police officer doing the verification had added two comments on his own based on which the PV report was put under adverse category.

The first point said the name of the applicant in the passport form was Tanvi Seth while in the marriage certificate her name was Sadia Anas. The second was a discrepancy in her address on the ground that her rental address in Noida was not mentioned in the form by the applicant.

The spokesperson went on to clarify that on the marriage certificate, under the revised passport application rules, there was no requirement for submission of a marriage certificate at the time of application of passport. Therefore, the name in the marriage certificate was not relevant to the issue of passport.

On the address issue, he said Tanvi had submitted her ‘Adhaar Card’ and a joint bank account as a proof of her name and address which was the same as mentioned in the application form. Therefore, the issue of passport to Tanvi was found in order based on the existing rules.

The controversy had erupted on 20 June when Tanvi and her husband Mohammad Anas Siddiqui wrote on Twitter that they were humiliated at the passport office in Lucknow. They had alleged that the passport official Vikas Mishra had asked Tanvi to convert to Hinduism. Mishra was later transferred to Gorakhpur. The couple had also tagged External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. The inter-faith couple was also issued passports.

Following the official’s transfer, the minister was trolled on Twitter.