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Portuguese Citizenship: Many Issues Yet to Be Resolved, Says Adv Carlos



PANAJI: Aldona Congress MLA Adv Carlos Alvares Ferreira has welcomed the Union government’s decision to allow individuals who have acquired Portuguese nationality to apply for an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card based on passport revocation certificates. However, he cautioned that numerous issues remain unresolved, continuing to trouble Goan-origin individuals, particularly those abroad.

At a press conference, Adv Ferreira highlighted the case of a minor child in the UK. The child received a show-cause notice from the Indian High Commissioner in the UK for “contravention of rules” after obtaining an Indian passport post-registration of birth in Portugal.

“In 2015, this individual was a minor and obtained an Indian passport in March. The Portuguese registration occurred in September 2015 while the individual was still a minor. The Indian passport was renewed in 2020. In December 2023, the individual, still a minor, acquired a Portuguese passport. Before turning 18 on January 24, 2024, the child applied for an OCI card on January 6, 2024. An appointment was set for January 11, 2024, and the process was completed before the child attained majority,” Adv Carlos explained.

“In May 2024, the individual received a show-cause notice, stating that the renewal of the Indian passport after registering birth and acquiring foreign citizenship was a contravention of rules, and requested to show cause why action should not be taken,” he added.

Adv Ferreira emphasized that Indian embassies and high commissions abroad demand a renunciation certificate after one surrenders their Indian passport due to birth registration in another country, creating confusion.

“Article 9 of the Indian Constitution states that voluntarily acquiring foreign citizenship results in the automatic cessation of Indian citizenship. Requesting an OCI card should inherently acknowledge the acquisition of foreign citizenship and the necessary documentation should be sufficient,” he asserted.

Adv Ferreira pointed out the inconsistency in the central government’s stance. “In India, registering birth in Portugal confers Portuguese citizenship. However, in international scenarios, authorities demand a renunciation certificate, causing confusion. The government needs to clarify this ambiguous situation,” he stated.

He cited cases, including those of ex-MLA Caetano Silva and Adv Aires Rodrigues, to demonstrate the inconsistent application of citizenship rules. He also referenced Mehul Choksi’s case, highlighting the selective application of citizenship laws.

“You cannot confuse people with dual standards. The central government must provide a clear and consistent policy to prevent international and domestic discrepancies,” he added.

Adv Ferreira advocated for a one-time amnesty scheme for those who have registered births in Portugal but continue to live in India.

“These individuals should be granted amnesty as their registration was likely in anticipation of future opportunities. Currently, as Portuguese citizens, their rights to hold property, operate bank accounts, engage in transactions, and conduct business are jeopardized,” he argued.

“These issues remain unresolved and require urgent clarity from the central government,” Adv Ferreira concluded.

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