New Delhi, July 5: The Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday categorically said that all existing norms were followed in the issuance of a passport to a Lucknow woman, trying to put a lid on the massive controversy which even saw Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj subjected to vicious attacks online.
Swaraj was trolled after the ministry had issued a passport to Tanvi Seth, days after she accused Lucknow passport officer Vikas Mishra of harassing her and her husband Anas Siddiqui.
Seth had made a slew of allegations against Mishra, including asking her husband to convert to Hinduism and pulling her up for marrying a Muslim.
Mishra was subsequently transferred to Gorakhpur for his alleged misconduct against the interfaith couple. After the action against the official, some trolls subjected Swaraj to vile attacks, accusing her of appeasing Muslims.
"I would like to categorically state that all existing norms were followed during the issuance of passport to Tanvi Seth. I hope this clarifies the matter and puts to rest all misinformation in this regard," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at a press briefing.
Sources said an internal probe by the MEA has found that Mishra and the police officer who carried out police verification of the applicant overstepped their brief.
Kumar said the police officer carrying out verification of Seth's details added two comments on his own based on which the police verification (PV) report was put under "adverse category".
The first point says that the name of the applicant in the passport form is Tanvi Seth, while in her marriage certificate her name is Sadia Anas, and the second was a discrepancy in her address on the ground that her rental address in NOIDA is not mentioned in the passport application form.
Kumar said these two points were not required at all as per latest guidelines framed by the ministry. He said the PV report sent to regional passport office in Lucknow was to be based on a decision taken in December 2017 that PV will be undertaken only on two points - whether the applicant is a citizen of India and whether the applicant has any criminal case pending against him or her.
"These two aspects were converted in to a six point PV form. This decision was communicated to the DGPs of all states and Union territories to implement the PV norms from 1 June 2018," said Kumar.
In the Tanvi Seth case, Kumar said there was no adverse report on all six points mentioned in the revised form.
"The police officer doing the verification added two comments on his own based on which the PV report was put under adverse category."
On the marriage certificate, he said under the revised passport application rules, there is no requirement for submission of a marriage certificate at the time of application of passport.
"Therefore, the name in the marriage certificate is not relevant to the issue of passport," he said. Asked about the NOIDA address, he said Seth had submitted her Adhaar card and a document on joint bank account as a proof for her name and address which was the same as mentioned in the application form.
"Therefore, the issue of passport to Tanvi Seth was found in order based on the existing rules," he said. Seth submitted her passport application at Lucknow passport office on 20 June and passport was issued to he after careful examination of the documents submitted and following due process as per the Passport Act, he said.