Goans, who obtained Portuguese nationality by registering their names in that country’s Central Registry, may lose Indian citizenship with a high-level central panel recommending action against them as per Indian law.
The inter-ministerial committee, headed by additional secretary in the Union home ministry B K Prasad, has recommended that the issue of citizenship of such persons should be decided as per the Citizenship Act 1955 and Citizenship Rules 2009.
The panel was set up by the central government following a letter of the then Goa governor B V Wanchoo, and the then Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar (currently Defence Minister), who had informed that around four lakh Goans have registered their names in Portugal’s Central Registry of Births, Marriages and Death.
As per Portuguese law, those who register their names in the Central Registry automatically become a Portuguese national and a citizen of European nations.
However, such a person ceases to be an Indian citizen as per the Citizenship Act 1955.
There have been allegations that several public servants, including MLAs and MPs, have registered their names in the Central Registry, which they claim has not been done by them or done without their knowledge.
After going through various deliberations, evidence and records available, the inter-ministerial committee felt that if any question arises as to whether, when and how any citizen of India has acquired the citizenship of another country, it should be determined by provisions of Citizenship Act 1955 and Citizenship Rules 2009.
The panel recommended that the issue of citizenship of such persons will be decided by an authority designated by the central government after receiving representations, enquire upon, in just, fair, reasonable and transparent manner and submit the report along with recommendations to central government for necessary action. Portugal recognises dual/ multi-nationality while India does not. This situation has given rise to serious problems relating to nationality and citizenship such as non-surrender of Indian passports on acquisition of Portugal nationality, illegal stay in India, violation of Foreigners Act or registration by a third party without consent or knowledge of the person concerned.
Those Goans who registered their names in Portugal’s Central Registry automatically become Portuguese citizens, allowing them to travel and buy property there and also in EU countries.
The inter-ministerial committee suggested that whosoever has acquired Portuguese passport automatically became citizen of Portugal and cease to be an Indian citizen.
To determine nationality status of all such persons who were born before December 20, 1961, when Goa became independent from Portuguese rule, in the territories comprising the Union territory of Goa, Daman and Diu, an order called the Goa Daman and Diu (Citizenship) order 1962 was issued through a notification dated March 28, 1962.
According to the aforesaid notification, every person, who or either of whose parents or any of whose grandparents was born before December 20, 1961 in the territories now comprised in the Union territory of Goa, Daman and Diu became a citizen of India on that day, if the person did not opt to retain the citizenship or nationality which he had immediately before December 20, 1961.
Subsequently, many Goans who became citizenship of India as per Goa, Daman and Diu (Citizenship) order 1961 registered their birth in the Central Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths in Lisbon, Portugal.