No orange colour passports, Printing last page to continue: MEA

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India’s Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday night announced that it has reversed its decision on the issuance of a orange-coloured passport to those who have ECR (Emigration Check Required) status as also on printing of the last page with personal details.

The decision was taken at a meeting, chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and attended by one of her two deputies V K Singh among others, on Monday, the ministry said in a press release.

Based on the recommendations of a three-member committee comprising officials of MEA and the women and child development ministry, it was decided not to print the last page of the passport booklet, the MEA said in a release.

The ministry had earlier decided to issue a passport with orange colour jacket to passport holders with ECR status, with a view to help and assist them on priority basis, it said.

However, “the MEA has received several individual and collective representations requesting to reconsider these two decisions… the decision of the MEA on both these issues was reviewed in the light of these representations”, it said.

“After comprehensive discussions with the various stakeholders, the MEA has decided to continue with the current practice of printing of the last page of the passport and not to issue a separate passport with orange colour jacket to ECR passport holders”, the release said.

The orange passport that was proposed earlier would be used by citizens who have not passed their class 10 examination. It was also supposed to protect against worker exploitation overseas.

The proposal was met with criticism especially from Congress president Rahul Gandhi who claimed that the orange and blue colour schemes could lead to discrimination.

A PIL challenging the issuance of orange-colour passports was filed in the Kerala High Court, in which the petitioner argued that such a move would lead to segregation of people with low education and low economic status.

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The petition had also objected to the government’s doing away with the printing of information found on the last page of passports, contending that the move is not supported by any cogent reason and does not achieve any purpose.

After a preliminary hearing, the Kerala HC had issued a notice to the Centre to respond on the issues raised by the PIL.

Published on 30 January 2018

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