Delhi High Court Rules Citizenship Act Prevails Over Passport Manual in Passport Issuance Case

Featured & Cover Delhi High Court Rules Citizenship Act Prevails Over Passport Manual in Passport Issuance Case (1)

The Delhi High Court recently ruled that provisions outlined in the Passport Manual of 2020 are overridden by the Citizenship Act of 1955. Justice Subramaniam Prasad passed this order in response to a plea by two minor children challenging the authorities’ decision to revoke their Indian passports and refusal to reissue them.

In its verdict, the High Court directed the authorities to issue passports to the children. Born to Indian parents who later moved to the US, the children sought court intervention to obtain Indian passports without charge. The plea emphasized that while their father retained Indian citizenship, their mother acquired US citizenship under Section 9 of the Citizenship Act.

The High Court’s decision favored the children, affirming that they met the criteria specified in Section 4(1)(A) of the Citizenship Act. This section mandates that a minor holding citizenship of India and another country must renounce one of them upon reaching adulthood to retain Indian citizenship.

The court highlighted the government’s stance, referencing a 2011 circular acknowledging that minors may hold dual citizenship until they reach adulthood and opt to renounce one citizenship. It emphasized that the government recognized minors’ entitlement to Indian passports and the option to renounce foreign citizenship to maintain Indian nationality.

Despite this, the authorities cited the Passport Manual of 2020, which asserts that no Indian citizen, including minors, can possess both Indian and foreign passports simultaneously. The High Court pointed out the inconsistency between the Passport Manual and the Citizenship Act.

According to the court, “Clearly, the Passport Manual is at variance with Section 4 of the Citizenship Act, which will undoubtedly prevail over the Passport Manual. It is clear that the subordinate legislation cannot override the parent legislation.” Consequently, the court concluded that there was no legal barrier to granting the petitioners’ request and allowed the writ petition in favor of the children.

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