Other States

Goa district collectors to hear dual citizenship pleas

Goa district collectors are awaiting the State Law Department’s nod to issue public notices to people with Portuguese and Indian citizenship to approach them with their cases within three months. An estimated 40,000 people registered their births with the Portuguese Registry based on a provision in Portuguese law offering citizenship to people born in Goa before December 19, 1961, and their children. Many Goans availed of the offer as they saw it as an easy access to the European Union and a chance to give their children a bright future.

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (Foreigners and Citizenship Division) in New Delhi had issued a notification empowering district collectors to scrutinise each application in terms of the Indian Citizenship Act 1955 and Citizenship Rules of 2009, and submit the findings and reports on each case to the Centre.

North Goa Collector Nila Mohanan said the public notices would be issued to people who have registered their births in Portugal. Many people who registered their births at the Portuguese Registry in Lisbon had not applied for their cartao do cidadao (photo identity citizenship card) or Portuguese passport as they did not want to surrender their Indian citizenship.

After the issue of a large number of people facing the prospect of losing their Indian citizenship was raised in the State Assembly, Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju announced last year the setting up of an authority to take a call on the citizenship issue.

South Goa Collector Swapnil Naik said, “We have sought clarifications regarding the advertisement to be issued by us to invite the public to present their cases, and to inform the public about the exact time to submit their applications.”

The collectors are expected to conduct an inquiry in a fair and transparent manner keeping in mind the provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955, and Citizenship Rules, 2009. The collectors are then expected to make recommendations to the MHA giving details of each case, said Mr. Naik.

Disputed citizenship cases of former and present MLAs — including a BJP MLA — are pending in various courts. The names of many Goans were deleted from electoral rolls after it became clear that they had obtained a Portuguese passport.

The issue came to fore after a local Right to Information activist, Kashinath Shetye, approached the police. A trial court then directed the Crime Branch of the State police to file an FIR against two MLAs and police officials. The police then registered FIRs against over 500 persons, excluding MLAs.

This led to a huge outcry and then Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar promised in the State Assembly to resolve the issue.

According to Mr. Parrikar many people did not know the implication of registering their names in the Portuguese Registry. The names of some were registered without their knowledge.

The MHA during the UPA regime cancelled the citizenship of then regional party MLA Caetao Silva who supported the BJP-led coalition in the State. Mr. Silva lost the election this year and his challenge is still pending in the High Court. The MHA then announced the setting up of an authority within the State to deal with the issue.

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 10:58:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/goa-district-collectors-to-hear-dual-citizenship-pleas/article19137508.ece

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