Issue passports to women, govt told

Kathmandu, November 28:

Scrapping a decade-old cabinet decision, the Supreme Court today directed the government to issue passports to women under 35 years of age even without the consent of their guardians. Issuing the directive, a division bench of justices Badri Kumar Basnet and Balram KC also told the government not to impose any such restrictions against women who want to obtain passports. The supreme court directive came in response to a writ petition filed by two women, Punyabati Pathak and Mana Basnet Karki.

The petitioners had challenged the cabinet decision, which had barred the government authorities from issuing passports to women under 35 years of age without the consent of their guardians. The bench also directed the Office of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, Ministers of Home and Foreign Affairs, Women Children and Social Welfare and the Kathmandu District Administration Office to issue passports without imposing such a criteria. “The provision cannot exist since it is against the right to freedom guaranteed by Article 12 (2) of the Constitution,” the division bench ruled. Terming the provision discriminatory against women, the bench said the requirement of guardians’ consent to obtain a passport is against the spirit of the Universal Declaration 1948 and Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966.