Bring policy to enable people get fresh passport easily after sex change: MHA to MEA

NEW DELHI, Nov 14: The Delhi High Court has been informed that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has advised the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to come up with a policy that enables people who undergo sex change surgery outside India to get a fresh passport without difficulties as the biometrics do not change after such medical procedures.
The MHA said that the identity of such Indian citizens can be verified through biometric records which are already available with the authorities.
The MEA has said it needs time to examine the suggestion with different stakeholders and its technical feasibility before it comes up with a policy.
Justice Subramonium Prasad has listed the matter for December 19.
The High Court was hearing a petition by a transgender woman, who approached the High Court seeking a direction to the authorities to re-issue her passport with her revised particulars, including new name and gender, since her appearance changed after undergoing sex reassignment surgery.
The court said though the passport was issued and the matter became infructuous, it directed the Centre’s counsel to evolve a policy that allows people who undergo operations for change of sex outside the country to get a fresh passport in their new identity without difficulties.
On November 7, senior panel counsel Farman Ali Magray, representing the MEA, apprised the court of two letters received from the Deputy Secretary (Immigration) and MEA.
The MHA, in the letter, said that the matter has been examined in consultation with the field agency and since the biometrics are not liable to change after one undergoes such medical procedures, a mechanism or policy may be developed by the MEA, as authorities already have the biometric records to verify their identity before issuance of new passports.
A letter from the concerned embassy addressed to the Bureau of Immigration to facilitate immigration clearance in such cases, is also required to avoid any confusion at the Immigration Check Post, it said.
The MEA, in its letter, said the BOI (MHA) is in agreement with the MEA that if a person undergoes a sex change operation abroad and due to that operation there is a change in name, sex, as well as appearance of that person, and the details in the old passport do not match with the changes, then such person may apply for re-issuance of passport at concerned Indian Mission/Post abroad.
A fresh passport may be issued to such a person upon furnishing prescribed documents and receipt of a clear police report, it said.
The plea stated that the petitioner, who was a male by birth, had moved to the US in 2018 after getting a job there and transitioned from man to woman between 2016 and 2022, after which she was able to legally secure a change of name and gender by way of a court order in that country.
She submitted an application to the Indian authorities on January 18 this year for a re-issue of her passport with her new name and gender but it took six months for the change to happen. (PTI)

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