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Goa passes bill to replace Portugese succession law

The Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP)-led government on Friday unanimously passed the Goa Succession, Special Notaries and Inventory Proceeding Bill, 2012, which seeks to replace the Portuguese Civil Code on the subject of succession, inventory and notarial law to meet the present day requirements, and to make it workable.

The Bill was first introduced on January 14, 2005, by the then Congress government, and later referred to the Select Committee. Following the dissolution of the House, the Bill lapsed twice during Congress regimes.

The Bill was considered the need of the hour as due to the Portuguese Civil Code, litigants were facing hardship in their application, and delays in disposing of cases.

“It’s been 55 years since Goa got liberated from Portuguese rule. We have to adapt to the social change and Goa is now part of India. Considering that the laws in force were applicable to an altogether different set of political circumstances, it has become necessary to amend the law to meet the present day requirements and to make it workable,” said Deputy Chief Minister and Revenue Minister Francisco D’Souza, while tabling the Bill in the House on Friday.

The provisions of the law relating to succession, notaries and inventory proceeding were dispersed in the Civil Code, 1867, in force with effect from August 1,1870, as amended from time to time; the Civil Procedure Code of 1939, in force from January 1, 1941; Notarial law dated November 14, 1952. All these became laws of the land by virtue of section 5 of the Goa, Daman and Diu (Administration) Act, 1962 (1 of 1962) until amended by competent Legislature.

The Minister said that the provisions are in Portuguese and hence the courts, the members of the Bar and the litigants faced practical difficulties in their applications, causing delays in disposing of cases. The 2008 Bill had intended to consolidate the various provisions of law relating to succession and inventory proceedings in property matters, and notaries into one ‘comprehensive, rational and integrated legislation to facilitate their application and implementation by the bench, the bar and litigants’.

The Portuguese Civil Code that has been in force in Goa, often called the family law, was applicable only to the State and dealt with succession and inheritance. It treats all Goans irrespective of their religion or ethnicity, as equal.

Former Member of Goa Law Commission and law professor in Kare Law College, Margao, Cleofat Coutinho Almeida, told The Hindu on Saturday that the law needed to be changed to keep up with societal changes. For instance, instead of devolving property from one generation to another, now people were generating assets and developing business. Certain provisions of the old Portuguese law were causing a hindrance. “The Bill passed by the State Assembly on Friday also tends to take a more humane and fair outlook on illegitimacy, on mentally challenged persons and those who were earlier denied property rights because of social stigma,” said Coutinho.

In other respects, Coutinho says, it is the same Portuguese law officially presented in English except the fact that as per new legislation inheritance and succession are to be treated as a normal suit in the court and not an inventory matter. He said that the succession and inventory proceedings have been reduced to 30 years from the time of death of land owners. he explained that the law had undergone changes in Portugal itself over the years and so it is a good thing that issues of inheritance and possession are revisited keeping asset development in mind.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 3:01:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/Goa-passes-bill-to-replace-Portugese-succession-law/article14556836.ece

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