Justice Tashi Rabstan
Is documentary evidence required to prove a mother as the sole guardian of a minor child?
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• The petitioner has filed a suit seeking quashment of communication issued by the Regional Passport Office, Jammu.
• The letter aimed that the petitioner-applicant, who is minor, has been residing with his mother at Delhi, so his mother cannot apply from the jurisdiction of Jammu for issuance of passport in favor of petitioner and a penalty of Rs. 5000/- has also been imposed on the mother of petitioner.
• The petitioner applicant was born to his mother with her previously wedded husband wherein the marriage could not materialize and had been dissolved.
• The petitioner lives with his maternal grandfather in Jammu and filed the petition through him.
• It was contended that the petitioner has the right to apply for his passport through the jurisdiction of Jammu and so shall be allowed.
• The respondent objected stating that the petitioner resided with his mother in Delhi and the mother of the petitioner has failed to provide with documentary proof of her being the sole guardian of the child.
The High Court allowed the appeal stating “Further, as regards the contention of learned counsel for respondent No. 2, that mother of petitioner had failed to provide any documentary proof to the effect that she is the only guardian of the child, the Apex Court in Githa Hariharan v. Reserve Bank of India (1991) 2 SCC 228 : (AIR 1999 SC 1149) has held that the mother can act as a natural guardian of child, inter alia, the event the father is indifferent towards the child or if the child is put under custody of mother by mutual understanding between the parents. Further, the High Court of Delhi in case, titled as, Shalu Nigam v. The Regional Passport Officer, decided on 17.05.2016 AIR 2016 Del 130) has held that mother's name is sufficient in certain cases like the present one to apply for passport, especially as a single woman can be a natural guardian and also a parent.
Therefore, in view of the above, I find merit in the writ petition. Accordingly, the writ petition is allowed and Communication under Reference No. SCN/304085684/15 dated 01.07.2015 issued by respondent No. 2 is hereby quashed. Passport Officer, Regional Passport Office, Jammu is directed to issue passport in favour of petitioner after going through his school documents that he has been putting up and studying at Jammu, of course, after completing other necessary formalities. Connected miscellaneous petition(s), accordingly, stands disposed of.”
-Para 8&9 (Saien v. Union of India)