Explain if Portuguese laws still applicable in Goa: CIC asks MHA

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Are Portuguese laws still in force in Goa? Three years after an RTI was filed in this regard, there was no clear reply from any government department prompting the Chief Information Commissioner to direct the Union Home Ministry to explain its position.

The application received by the President’s Secretariat was referred to the home ministry and the Election Commission.

It was only the commission which categorically stated that it was conducting elections in Goa as per Indian laws.

The query was made by one Antonia Michelle Abel of Goa who had asked for information on seven points regarding elections in Goa, Daman, and Diu in the years 1963 and 1987.

Goa, Daman, and Diu was a union territory of India between 1961 to 1987 after the annexation of Portuguese colonies into the Union of India in 1961.

In 1987, Goa was made a separate state while Daman and Diu became a union territory.

Through her RTI application filed in 2014, Abel had demanded copy of the directions, notifications and orders issued by the Union government on the basis of which the Assembly and the Panchayat elections are held in Goa.

She informed the CIC that apparently both Indian and Portuguese laws are running parallel in Goa, therefore, the government should clarify whether Portuguese laws are still in force or have been repealed.

The President’s Secretariat said it is not the custodian of the matter and referred the matter to the home ministry.

The home ministry further transferred the application to the Department of Personnel and Training and the External Affairs Ministry and also said it has sought the relevant information on the subject from its Centre-State division.

“The President’s Secretariat, ECI, DoPT and the Ministry of External Affairs have nothing to do with the present matter,” Chief Information Commissioner R K Mathur said.

He said the home ministry is competent to clarify whether Portuguese laws are repealed or are still in force after the merger of Goa with the Indian Union.

“…the Ministry of Home Affairs should provide to the appellant a copy of the documents after compiling the same (directions/notifications/orders etc issued by the Government of India regarding applicability of Laws in the State of Goa after annexation)…,” he said.

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