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Facing Flak, Govt Withdraws Plan to Introduce Orange Colour Passports

The decision to withdraw the order comes just a day after the Kerala High Court issued notices to the central government and the Passport Authority of India over the proposal to have two different colour passports.

Aishwarya Kumar | News18.com

Updated:January 30, 2018, 8:13 PM IST
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Facing Flak, Govt Withdraws Plan to Introduce Orange Colour Passports
A mockup of the orange colour passport proposed by the government with the blue passport. The plan to introduce different colour passports based on educational qualification was criticized. (Photo: News18)
New Delhi: The Ministry of External Affairs has withdrawn its proposal to introduce orange colour passports for people belonging to ECR category, that is those who have not passed 10th grade at school and want to travel abroad for work, after facing flak for the "discriminatory" order.

The decision comes just a day after the Kerala High Court has issued notices to the central government and the Passport Authority of India over the proposal to have two different colour passports.

In a statement, the foreign ministry said it will continue with the current practice of printing the last page of the passport and will not issue a separate passport to ECR (Emigration Clearance Required) passport holders.

The MEA had announced the plan in the first week of January, but had not released any other details of the plan, including a timeline for implementation.

ECR or "Emigration Check Required" category is particularly for applicants who and are travelling abroad for work to a group of 18 countries, most of them in Gulf. They have to get an 'Emigration clearance' certificate from the office of Protector of Emigrants before leaving India.

Critics of the proposal had said it fell afoul of the right to equality enshrined in the Constitution as it amounts to discrimination and segregation of persons solely on the basis of their education and economic status.

Legal experts had also pointed out that although the plan was supposed to protect vulnerable labourers from exploitation abroad, it would instead increase the vulnerability of workers, who are often duped by middlemen who promise them jobs.

The advocate who had filed the PIL in the Kerala HC had argued that “there could arise situations whereby it is easily revealed to the foreign authorities that the persons is uneducated and unskilled, and by making the vulnerable state of the person so evident and apparent, chances of such persons being exploited will be increased.”

Congress president Rahul Gandhi had termed the decision unacceptable. “Treating India’s migrant workers like second class citizens is completely unacceptable,” he had tweeted.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, too, had voiced concerns over the plan and asked the Centre to rectify the order. “The decision will discriminate between ordinary workers and educated ones. This would lead to a situation wherein those who have not passed the tenth standard would be considered as second class citizens,” he had said.

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| Edited by: Bijaya Das
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