The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, announced that women can retain their maiden names in passports even after marriage, while speaking to the Indian Merchants Chambers’ ladies wing via video conferencing.
During the conference he was quoted by Business Today as saying, “From now onwards, women will not have to change their names in the passport after their marriage.” He also went onto to note that women can choose whether they wanted to use the name of either their father or mother in the passport.
The announcement was widely hailed by men and women across social media for being progressive.
Women Don’t Need To Change Their Names In Passport After Marriage Anymore. ?
— Insha Ghai (@InshaGhai) April 13, 2017
Good step by PM @narendramodi .Women don’t need to change names on passport after marriage.They r free to choose their mother/father’s name
— Mimansa Malik (@Mimansa_Zee) April 13, 2017
However married women with passports took to Twitter to note that they have always had the option of retaining maiden names when it comes to passport.
— प्रियंका (@pandey_priyanka) April 13, 2017
Given the confusion it seems to have created among people, especially married women who had never had their passports updated on this front, we tried to get to the bottom of it all.
Here’s what his statement could possibly refer to.
Image source: Flickr
Fact Checker has reported that this announcement is probably linked to a set of new rules that the Minister of External Affairs had reported back in December 2016. One of the amendments reads, “Married applicants would not be required to provide Annexure K or any marriage certificate.”
The rules also tried to make it easier for women who are in the process of being separated or getting divorced to update their passports. The pamphlet states, “The Passport application form does not require the applicant to provide the name of her/his spouse in case of separated or divorced persons. Such applicants for passports would not be required to provide even the Divorce Decree.”
It is apparent that not many are aware that marriage is no criteria for such changes in official documents. Given that women have often reported being harassed about these issues, having the Prime Minister clarify everything would put the matter to rest once and for all.