Additional Solicitor General of India Atmaram Nadkarni said that the recent Seventh amendment to Portuguese Law No 37/81 (Nationality Act) – Lei Orgânica Nº. 9/2015, de 29 de Julho – which grants Portuguese citizenship to persons born abroad and who are descendents of Portuguese citizens, will in no way have repercussions on the ‘citizenship issue’ presently faced by a number of Goans.
The particular amendment allows individuals born abroad, with at least one ascending Portuguese nationality of the second degree in the straight line that has not lost that nationality, if they declare that they want to be Portuguese, having an effective connection with the national community, and checked these requirements, to register their birth with the Portuguese registry.
The amendment also implies such recognition by the government of Portugal to the applicant, particularly by sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language, the existence of regular contact with the Portuguese territory, and depending on no condemnation, with final and un-appealable sentence for committing a crime punishable with a maximum prison sentence equal to or greater than 3 years, according to the Portuguese law.
Speaking to this daily, Nadkarni, who was the former state advocate general said that the amendment has not been carried out by the Portuguese government exclusively for Goa, but for all of its ex-colonies as well as its former overseas territories. “This has been done to restrict the number of people moving to Portugal in large numbers, including Gujaratis,” he added.
The Additional Solicitor General of India also said that the citizenship issue faced by many Goans is totally different, and has nothing to do with this amendment. “Our issue pertains to registration of birth by many Goans in the Portuguese birth registry, and giving up their citizenship, which is presently before the Union Ministry of Home Affairs,” he added, pointing out that the issue faced by these Goans concerns as to whether they are opting to give up their Indian citizenship or not, and therefore the abovementioned amendment would have no repercussions on the citizenship issue.
It is estimated that around 2 lakh Goans were issued Portuguese citizen cards that is Bilhete de Identidade (Identity Card) and Cartão de Cidadão (Citizen Card). Furthermore, government statistics show that around 40,000 Goans have registered their births in Portugal, but do not have either a Portuguese passport or the Bilhete de Identidade. It has also come to light that on an average, nine Goans, each day surrender their Indian passports for Portuguese passports. However, majority of them bypass Portugal and use the country’s EU membership to stay and work in the European countries including UK.