Press "Enter" to skip to content

Goan candidates must give up Portuguese citizenship to fight polls

Over two lakh Goans who are currently enjoying both India and Portugese citizenship will have to give up plans to contest assembly polls, as the Election Commission has made a special change in the nomination form for 2017 state assembly elections. The candidates have to make a declaration that they are citizens of India and have not acquired citizenship of any other country.

Another important change in the nomination form requires the affixing of the photograph of the candidate to enable the Election Commission print it on the EVM (electronic voting machine) ballot paper.

The format of the nomination form was amended by the law ministry on September 16 to resolve this citizenship issue that resulted in at least two MLAs in the present Goa Assembly facing disqualification for ceasing to be Indian citizens by acquiring Portuguese citizenship.

A piquant situation was created by Portugal’s decision in 2006 to permit the people of Goa born before the liberation of the territory to register their births in its registry. Hundreds of Goans rushed to grab this opportunity as it not only allowed them to go to any part of Europe, but also made their children eligible for studies and work in Europe.

According to Portuguese law, any person who registers his name in the registry is accorded Portuguese nationality and considered a citizen of the European Nations.

However, the committee citing India’s Citizenship Act 1955 and Citizenship Rules 2009 has highlighted that any such registration in a foreign country will stop such person from being an Indian citizen. India’s laws forbid dual citizenship.

Portugal’s acceptance of dual citizenship (and India’s legal stance of single citizenship) has led to serious problems relating to both nationality and citizenship. Illegal stay in India; the non-surrender of an Indian passport on acquisition of Portugal nationality; and even violations of the Foreigners Act have been some crucial issues.

The facility of birth registration was offered by Portual to the people born in “Estado da Índia”, i.e. Goa, Daman & Diu, prior to 19.12.1961, and Dadra & Nagar Haveli, prior to 21.08.1954, whose births were registered in the Civil Registration Offices of these territories before the liberation.