Passports of inter-faith couple won’t be cancelled: RPO Lucknow

LUCKNOW: Setting the record straight in the controversial passport row involving inter-faith couple Tanvi Seth and Anas Siddiqui, the regional passport office in Lucknow on Wednesday ruled out any adverse police report and said that the duo’s passports won’t be cancelled. The office said, it had found ‘no base’ to cancel the couple’s passport.

It further said that the officer who had allegedly made communal remarks at the couple will remain in Gorakhpur as his transfer will not be revoked. As per regional passport officer Piyush Verma, under the new Police Verification pro forma for passport documentation effective June 1, 2018, police verification is to be done for only two aspects of an applicant — for criminality and citizenship.

Six questions — five probing the criminality aspect including court summons if any, FIRs, criminal cases etc and one question related to the citizenship of an applicant is to be looked at by the local police.

“The police verification report for the two applicants, under the new pro forma, had no adverse observations or remarks. Their passports cannot be cancelled on that basis. Furthermore, Tanvi Seth submitted two supporting documents for securing a passport – her Aadhaar card and her bank passbook – both of which had the same name – Tanvi Seth – on them. The controversy around her name on the Nikahnama is irrelevant for the passport, since neither the Nikahnama nor the marriage certificate are required as proof for passport,” clarified the RPO.

On June 20, the couple, who have been married for 12 years, took to Twitter to reach out to minster for external affairs Sushma Swaraj with claims that a superintendent at the passport seva kendra — Vikas Mishra — had passed communal remarks against them. The couple claimed that while Tanvi was asked to change her name, Anas was told to convert to Hinduism to get a passport.

With social media going in a frenzy, the MEA secretariat swung into action, seeking a report from the RPO Lucknow and assuring appropriate action. The next day, the officer in question, Mishra, was transferred to Gorakhpur and the couple was given the passports.

However, some twists emerged later as police claimed that the couple had given false information about their residential address. This was, however, nullified by RPO claiming this cannot be considered “adverse” under the new verification pro forma for passports.

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