The Modi government has scrapped the idea of issuing orange colour passports for individuals with ECR status after it faced criticism for the proposed plan. Along with this, the Centre has also decided to retain the address of the passport-holder on the last page of the document.
The MEA said in a statement, "A decision was taken by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on the recommendations of a three-member committee comprising officials of MEA and the Ministry of Women and Child Development, not to print the last page of passport booklet."
"After comprehensive discussions with the various stakeholders, the MEA 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 colour jacket to ECR passport holders," the statement further added.
Foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj reviewed the plan after it was announced earlier this month. The review of the plan came after the government faced sharp criticism for this change.
The government had announced this significant alteration after it felt that orange passports would protect vulnerable workers abroad from exploitation. ECR or emigration clearance required status is rolled out primarily for unskilled workers, and/or individuals who have not completed school and are moving abroad to look for work.
However, Rahul Gandhi criticised the move and said that the orange coloured passport would only reinforce discrimination and would lead to Indian migrant workers treated as "second-class citizens".
"A Passport of a different colour for a certain class of Indians is an invitation for discrimination. #OrangeIsTheNewBlue," Congress had tweeted.
Not only that, the Kerala High Court today issued a notice to the central government on a PIL challenging its decision to introduce orange-coloured passports for people requiring emigration check. In his plea, lawyer Shamsuddeen Karunagappally argued that such a move would lead to segregation of people with low education and low economic status.
The decision to continue with the existing format was taken in a meeting helmed by Sushma Swaraj in the presence of General (retd) V K Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs.
(With PTI inputs)