Though the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) does not maintain statistics on children born out of wedlock because the law does not differentiate between them and those born to married couples, official sources said that the demand for passports by live-in couples for their children is highest in Mumbai and Bengaluru, when compared to the rest of the country.
“Many live-in couples in Bengaluru and Mumbai apply for passports for their children. They are required to sign up as the biological parents of the child while applying his or her passport. The growing trend is an indicator of social change and the progressive ambience in these cities, which makes it easy for people to have alternate lifestyles.
An open society and mindset coupled with enhanced legal awareness are other contributing factors, why parents, who are not yet married come out in the open and demand passport as a legal right for their children,” said an official source.
What is bizarre in this story of social inclusion is that while their children can have their passports; the live-in couple cannot – because a live in relationship does not have legal sanctity in India.
“Indian laws do not legitimise a live-in relationship. One has to belong to one of the three categories – single, married or divorced in the column on lifestyle choice or marital status in the passport application form,” the officer added.
Last year there was uproar in Bengaluru after a software engineer Debjani Mukherji got an adverse police report, when she applied for her passport renewal. She had submitted all documents but was grilled by a cop from the jurisdictional Kadugodi police station over her live in relationship during the passport verification process.
The matter was later sorted on the intervention of senior cops. “Laws will have to change with the times and it is matter of time, when live in relationship will also get its legal sanctity in India,” said the officer.