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Kerala HC issues notice to Centre after petitioners say orange-coloured passports are discriminatory

The government’s decision would lead to the segregation of people on the basis of their educational qualifications and economic status, the petitioners said.

The Kerala High Court on Monday issued a notice to the Centre based on a Public Interest Litigation plea challenging its decision to introduce orange-coloured passports for those who require emigration checks, PTI reported.

The petitioners, lawyer ShamsuddeenKarunagappally and Shajahan, argued that the government’s decision would lead to the segregation of people on the basis of their educational qualifications and economic status.

“Emigration Check is required for a passport holders who do not have an education beyond 10th grade, have less than taxable income and who seek migration for employment,” the petitioners said. “To make their underprivileged status known publicly through separate colour code is a grave invasion of their fundamental right to privacy and dignity.”

The move, they argued, targets migrant workers who travel to West Asian countries for jobs, and does not have any rational objective. “The segregation is demeaning and shockingly violative of the principle of equality.”

The petitioners disagreed with the government’s rationale that an orange-coloured passport would help the workers stand out in difficult situations and make it easier for authorities to process their document. They said the workers would be more vulnerable to harassment and exploitation since their status would be apparent because of their passport.

The petition has also challenged the Centre’s decision to remove the last page from the passports, which contains personal information including the name of the father, mother, spouse, address, Emigration Check Required and the old passport number.