The Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday reversed its decision to issue orange passports for those who require emigration checks. The government also went back on its decision to discontinue the practice of printing the last page of passports, All India Radio reported.
The last page contains personal information including the name of the father, mother, spouse, address, Emigration Check Required status and the old passport number.
The decision was made at a meeting on January 29 that Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj chaired. Minister of State for External Affairs General (retired) VK Singh had also attended the meeting. The ministry said that it had received several individual and collective representations on both these matters, and that it took the decision after detailed discussions with “various stakeholders”.
The Kerala High Court had issued a notice on Monday to the Centre based on a Public Interest Litigation plea challenging its decision to introduce orange passports.
The petitioners, lawyer Shamsuddeen Karunagappally and Shajahan, argued that the government’s decision would lead to the segregation of people on the basis of their educational qualifications and economic status. The move, they argued, targets migrant workers who travel to West Asian countries for jobs, and does not have any rational objective. “The segregation is demeaning and shockingly violative of the principle of equality.”
Emigration Check is required for passport holders who do not have an education beyond Class 10, have less than taxable income and seek to migrate for employment in countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Malaysia, Libya, Jordan, Yemen, Sudan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Syria, Lebanon, Thailand and Iraq.