In some cases, authorities have found people holding both the documents, not permitted under the law. So, those wishing to reclaim their identity cards will need to surrender their passports.
Tibetan refugees can surrender their Indian passports to reclaim their identity certificates without having to pay any penalty, the government has decided.
The decision comes in the wake of many Tibetan refugees wanting to surrender their passports as they were not willing to give up on their identity certificates, through which they are entitled to benefits and privileges from the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) based in Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh.
India is home to an estimated 1.5 lakh Tibetan refugees, most of who live in settlements across the country. They can get Indian passports, but have to forego their identity cards for that.
In some cases, authorities have found people holding both the documents, not permitted under the law.
So, those wishing to reclaim their identity cards will need to surrender their passports.
“If a Tibetan refugee wants to surrender (passport), they can do it without facing any trouble, including any penalty, and they will be then issued their identity certificate,” said an official.
In recent times, “around 30 requests were received for cancellation of passports”, an official said.
“There are some cases where a passport holder who also kept the IC. That is against the rule. They can opt for either of the document. There was never any talk of any penalty,” said another official.
There is no centralised data readily available on the number of passports issued to the refugees, but officials put them at “a few hundred”.
In March this year, the ministry of external affairs (MEA), in consonance with a Delhi court order of 2016, issued directions that Tibetan applicants who were born in India between January 26, 1950 and July 1, 1987 be treated as Indian citizens by birth (under the Indian Citizenship Act), and issue them passports.