Divorced woman moves court against passport office
Pune, Aug 7 (IANS) "If you are a divorced woman, then you can renew your passport only after getting a no-objection certificate (NoC) from your former husband." This official diktat forced a 67-year-old divorced woman here to move court Tuesday for justice.
The pre-condition imposed by the officials shocked Hema Gadgil who had approached the Regional Passport Office (RPO), Pune, to renew her passport in March.
Numbed by the unexpected official requirement, Gadgil went home, feeling humiliated and bitter as all the sad memories of her broken married life returned to haunt him.
Not willing to take it lying down, Gadgil moved the Bombay High Court Tuesday against the unfair condition slapped by the passport office.
"Although all the documents were in order, they refused to renew her passport. As a law-abiding citizen, Gadgil even mentioned her changed marital status, her new residential address and other aspects to ensure there were no problems," said Alka Babaladi of Sahyog Trust, which is helping her in the matter.
Despite repeated attempts to convince the passport office authorities, they did not relent. Finally, Gadgil asked them to issue a letter which she could show to her former husband for seeking his NoC.
The passport office promptly issued the letter May 22 this year. "Since you are a divorcee and using the surname of your ex-husband, you need to submit 'No Objection Certificate' from him to use his surname," it said.
"Making such a demand violates her fundamental rights," her lawyer Asim Sarode told IANS.
She filed a petition in the court, demanding orders to the RPO to renew her passport with the existing relevant documents without dragging in the NOC.
A bench of Justice D.D. Sinha and Justice V. Tahilramani, while admitting the petition, gave the respondents four weeks' time to file their reply, Sarode said.
Sarode said that since there have been similar instances in the past, Gadgil sought general directions to all passport offices in Maharashtra.
Explaining Gagdil's mental trauma, Babaladi said the elderly woman had been using her 'Gagdil' surname for 42 years of her married life, it is also there on all her other legal documents like PAN Card, driving licence, ration card and bank accounts.
"She has broken all contact with her former husband for the past nearly two decades and never met him barring during the hearings in the divorce proceedings. Now, to go back to him for his NoC is like a torture for a self-made woman who lived life on her own terms," she said.
Gadgil had left her husband and home to go to the US to pursue a Master's degree in German literature. Besides working for the Tata Consultancy Services, she also looked after her children and is now leading a retired life.
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