Indian Govt Withdraws Plan to Issue Orange Passports to Migrant Workers

The Ministry of External Affairs will also continue to have the last page of the passport as an address proof.


The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has decided against issuing orange-colored passports for citizens requiring an emigration clearance certificate. It has also decided to continue with the last page of the passport, which works as the address proof.

The MEA had decided earlier this month that those who do not need the emigration certificate would continue to receive a blue passport while people who fall under the ECR category would get the passport in the orange color. However, there had been stiff opposition to the proposal as people argued that it would lead to segregation and discrimination.

“After comprehensive discussions with the various stakeholders, the foreign ministry has decided to continue with the current practice of printing of the last page of the passport and not to issue a separate passport with orange color jacket to ECR passport holders,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a statement.

A passport with ECR status is granted to citizens who have educational qualifications below Class 10, who are allowed to leave India only after getting an Emigration Clearance certificate from the office of Protector of Emigrants. A majority of Indian blue collar workers employed in the Gulf countries come in this category.

The Kerala High Court had issued a notice to the central government based on a public interest litigation (PIL) that challenged the MEA’s decision. Lawyer Shamsuddeen Karunagappally had argued that this would lead to segregation towards those who have less education and economic status.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi had accused the BJP government of having a “discriminatory mindest” and treating the Indian migrant workers as “second class citizens.”

“Treating India’s migrant workers like second class citizens is completely unacceptable. This action demonstrates BJP’s discriminatory mindset,” he had said in a tweet earlier.

The MEA had also said that the last page of the passport, which contains the address, will be left blank. This fueled speculation that the passport would no longer be used as an address proof.

Currently, India issues passports in three colors — white for government officers, red for diplomats and blue for others.

Meanwhile, the government has made it easier to get a Tatkal passport by exempting those who require a passport quickly from seeking a recommendation or a verification certificate of a Class 1 or gazetted officer.

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