Passport officer exceeded jurisdiction in Lucknow interfaith-couple’s passport issue

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The couple made news on June 20 after requesting External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for help on Twitter, claiming theat they were harassed by an officer at the Lucknow Passport Office.

LUCKNOW: An internal inquiry conducted by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has found that all procedures laid down by the government were followed and there was no anomaly while granting passport to the inter-faith couple, Tanvi Seth and Anas Siddiqui, sources said on Wednesday. They added that the inquiry also found that Vikas Mishra, the officer at the Lucknow Passport Office, had overstepped the bound of his duty which is why he will remain posted at Gorakhpur.

Read More | Day After Being Harassed, Lucknow Inter-faith Couple Receive Passports; Officer Transferred

Sources said that the applicants met all the necessary criteria laid down by the government and there was no adverse report against Seth or Siddiqui by the Local Intelligence Unit during the security clearance. It was further clarified that a marriage certificate was not needed document for passport and the other documents produced by them met the requirements for the passport issuance.

Tanvi Seth made news on June 20 after requesting External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for help on Twitter, claiming she and her husband Anis Siddiqui were harassed by an officer at the Lucknow Passport Office at Ratan Square. Seth alleged that the officer Vikas Mishra asked her why she had not changed her name after marrying a Muslim. Following the complaint by Seth, MEA promptly ordered an inquiry and issued Seth a passport next day while transferring out Mishra to Gorakhpur.

Shortly after the action was taken against Mishra reports claimed that Seth’s address did not match with the one provided on her passport. Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Deepak Kumar had said that the verification report sent to the Regional Passport Office (RPO) showed that Seth has been living in Noida, while she had given a Lucknow address for police verification.

However, on Wednesday, sources said that police verification has nothing to do with the address and it is done to check the criminal record and nationality of the applicant. “Adverse police report does not stand ground as government notification of May 21, 2018 clearly says that police verification is done only to ascertain nationality and to check whether the applicant has any criminal record. It is not done to check name or address,” sources added.

EAM Sushma Swaraj was abused and trolled on Twitter for helping the couple and transferring out the passport officer who allegedly humiliated the couple on grounds of religion. She was even accused of minority appeasement ahead of the upcoming elections.

Seth had alleged that the officer questioned her marital status and spoke to her rudely. She also claimed that others in the passport office did not even react to his “rude demeanour.” Her husband Siddiqui too alleged that he was told to change his religion and take “pheras.” Swaraj’s Additional Private Secretary Vijay Dwivedi had forwarded the message to MEA Secretary (CPV) D.M. Mulay on June 20 who immediately sought a report from Lucknow RPO.

The couple was handed over their passport the next day and Mishra was transferred out. Sources said that Mishra had overstepped the bound of his duty. Though he has not been suspended he will remain posted in Gorakhpur. Sources added that transfers are a routine affair.

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