Last year, MiD DAY had reported on the predicament of Sandeep Kamble, an orphan who had been denied a passport as he couldn’t produce a birth certificate. This was hampering his future prospects and preventing him from going abroad for further studies (‘Denied passport for being an orphan’, June 23, 2011).
The third year engineering student can now finally see hope at the end of the tunnel. This fresh new promise has come in the form of a new government resolution (GR) issued by the Women and Child Welfare Development department (WCWD) on June 16, which says that special certificates will be issued to all orphans, which they can submit to schools, colleges and even passport offices, in lieu of their absent birth certificates.
Kamble’s woes can be traced to a government rule introduced in 2006, which made it mandatory for passport applicants born after 1989 to submit a copy of their birth certificate with their form — Kamble had submitted an affidavit attesting to his birth date and birthplace, yet the passport offices turned him away.
“This is a source of hope for many orphans like me. Last year in June, I applied for a passport, but was denied it as I couldn’t produce my birth certificate. My application was turned down in spite of the fact that I submitted legal documents from my NGO. Since then, I have been trying to get my hands on a birth certificate. My futile struggle for a passport has been continuing for almost a year now. I wish to pursue education abroad, and this GR will has brought hope not just to me, but also to many other orphan students like me,” said Sandeep Kamble.
Fr Noel Pinto from the NGO Sneha Sadan, which is Kamble’s home, said, “We welcome the move of the state government to help orphans obtain certificates from the WCWD. But it is not clear whether this facility is available to aided and government organisations only, or even to unaided or non government organisations likes ours. But the step is commendable. Unaided organisations can always appeal to the government to make the facility available even to those who live in their homes.”
Varsha Gaikwad, cabinet minister for the WCWD department, said, “The GR was issued by the Woman and Child Welfare Department two days back. Every organisation is registered with the woman and child welfare department. And the facility of providing special certificates to orphans will be available for all such organisations across the state.” Fauzia Khan, minister of state for women and child development, said, “If the state government has come up with this resolution than we will have to go one step further and make ensure that it is considered as a document which is accepted in lieu of birth certificates in passport offices.”
Dr Nilima Mehta, consultant, Child Protection & Adoption and former chairperson of the child welfare committee of Mumbai, said, “Any decision that government takes which is in the best interest of a child should be welcomed — that is the cardinal principal of United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).”
How to get the certificate
The NGOs, before approaching the WCWD, will have to make sure that the child is an orphan. The applicant should have a certificate of admission to the organization, as an orphan. The organisation will have to approach the district officer of the WCWD with all the details of the orphan. The officer will scrutinise the documents and send it to the deputy commissioner or commissioner of the WCWD in Pune.