Government drops plan to introduce orange passport for ECR category

The Ministry of External Affairs announced that no new changes were being made to the passport | PTI

The Ministry of External Affairs announced that no new changes were being made to the passport | PTI

The ministry for external affairs (MEA) has decided reverse its decision to issue an orange passport for Emigration Check Required (ECR) holders and discontinue the practice of printing the last page of passport.

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.

According to sources, representations had poured in from Indians and non-resident Indians, ministries and state governments. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued a statement saying the government has chose to continue with the printing of the last page of passport.

Earlier this month, former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had joined Congress President Rahul Gandhi in condemning government's proposed plan of issuing orange colour passports.

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

On January 29, during a meeting chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, the proposal was reviewed in the light of these representations.

ECR or "Emigration Check Required" category is for applicants who haven't finished school and are travelling overseas for work to a group of 18 countries, a lot of them in the Gulf. The panel had been formed to deal with issues related to the passports for children of single parents and adoptive parents. At the same time, the MEA had also declared that the covers of the ECR category passports that cater to migrant workers from India would be in orange instead of the usual blue. The Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement that the decision to continue with the current blue passports for all general sections was taken after "comprehensive discussions". The Centre had also decided that the Indian Security Press (ISP), Nashik, would design the new passport booklets.

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