Published On: Thu, Jun 21st, 2018
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Sushma intervenes, Hindu-Muslim couple get passports

Lucknow: A Hindu woman married to a Muslim got her passport on Thursday, following External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s intervention, barely 24 hours after a passport officer rejected her application on the grounds that she had not changed her surname.

The wife had a different name in her ‘nikahnama’, or wedding certificate, compared with her other documents

Regional Passport Official Piyush Verma on Thursday gave the passport to Tanvi Sethi while the passport of her husband Mohammad Anas Siddiqui was renewed and also handed over.

Sethi alleged misbehaviour by passport officer Vikas Mishra on Wednesday when she had gone to the passport office here. She said her passport application was rejected on the grounds that she had not changed her surname even after 12 years of marriage to a Muslim man.

She later tweeted to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Sushma Swaraj with her complaint. Both responded to her plea.

Passport officer Mishra has since been transferred to Gorakhpur and an explanation has been sought from him, an official said.

Sethi and her husband said they were very happy at the alacrity with which the PMO and the MEA responded.

The officer accused of misbehaviour, however, denied the charges and said he had only told Sethi of the rules laid down in such cases.

Senior officials said that old rules mandated that a marriage certificate be produced in cases of inter-religious marriages during the passport application procedure, though adding that the officer was not right in ill-treating the woman and shouting at her.

On the othr hand, the passport office staff Vikas Mishra, against whom the couple had levelled charges of misbehaviour, defended the questions he asked of the couple saying he was just following procedure.

Mishra, who was transferred from Lucknow to Gorakhpur earlier in the day, for reportedly mistreating the inter-faith couple, said the wife had a different name in her ‘nikahnama’, or wedding certificate, compared with her other documents, which is why he asked for more proof.

He also denied saying “it is a duty for a woman to get her name changed after marriage”. or telling the husband he should “convert to Hinduism”.

“She was showing nikahnama that had her name as ‘Shazia Anas’ but had said on documents that she has not changed her name Why did she not endorse this on paper? I asked her to endorse her ‘nikah’ name, but she said she did not want to do that, which is when I sent her to the higher official,” said Mishra.

He also denied that he discriminated based on religion.

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