Women are now free to retain their maiden names on their passports after marriage or divorce, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Thursday, April 13. He also added that women will also have the option to include their mothers' names on their passports instead of their father's name. Modi's comments, however, have left many confused, since women could retain their maiden name on their passports ever earlier.
The prime minister made the announcement while addressing a gathering of Indian Merchants Chambers' Ladies Wing in Mumbai through video-conferencing. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and BJP's Lok Sabha MP Poonam Mahajan also attended the event.
Many people took to social media to question whether Modi was indeed talking about a new set of rules. According to the instructions booklet of the passport application form on the Passport Seva website, the requirement to change the surname is only applicable to "an applicant who has even marginally changed the name or a female who has changed her name or surname after marriage".
Therefore, a woman who has retained her maiden name doesn't need to apply for a change in the name on her passport.
Under the law it's entirely up to the woman whether she wants to change her name after marriage forget about the passport! https://t.co/7KwerDLBIl— Swati Chaturvedi (@bainjal) April 13, 2017
@rajiv_bantwal can you pl explain to me how this is different from earlier position? I have kept my maiden name in passport and everywhere for 20+ yrs.— kavitharao (@kavitharao) April 13, 2017
Wasn't that the case for many years now? I haven't changed my surname post marriage & had no issues with that when I renewed my passport. https://t.co/4iDW2ocKEX— Renuka Shahane (@renukash) April 13, 2017
They can retain their maiden names on passports even now, actually https://t.co/yc9Pn1qXU9— Nistula Hebbar (@nistula) April 13, 2017
What's new? That is the existing practice, right? Name change is optional even now. My wife carries her maiden name in all her documents. https://t.co/wEmDNImozM— செந்தில் / Chenthil (@chenthil_nathan) April 13, 2017
@TVMohandasPai Sir, wife got passport 2 yrs after marriage. She still retains her maiden name. Name change was always voluntary.— Raj (@rajneeshk) April 13, 2017
@ViolentVeggy Not needed*. Maiden name change was never 'needed'. Some people 'choose' to do it though..— Suneel Raghavendra (@suneel_r) April 14, 2017