Current Affairs

Benaulim MLA Silva a foreigner: MHA

In a severe blow to the Benaulim legislator Caetano “Caitu” Rosario Silva, the Union Home Ministry in a communiqué said that Goa Vikas Party MLA has ceased to be an Indian citizen from July 21, 2010. 

The order was pronounced on Wednesday, on the application filed by John Fernandes of Varca, Salcete after hearing Silva twice in October. The Home Ministry said that it determined that he is no longer a citizen of India after examining documents obtained from the state government, security agencies and the Indian embassy in Lisbon.

“…the central government in exercise of its powers conferred on it under section 9 (2) of the citizenship act 1955 and rules made there under determines that Caetano Rosario Silva resident of Goa ceased to be a citizen of India from the date he registered his birth with the central registry of births, marriages and deaths of Lisbon as Portuguese national w.e.f 21.07.2010,” says the order by Anand Joshi, Under Secretary to Ministry Home Affairs, foreigners division, Government of India.

The Home Ministry order cites section 9(1) of the Citizenship Act that one ceases to be a citizen of India if he or she “by naturalization, registration or otherwise voluntarily acquires, or has at any time between the 26th January 1950 and the commencement of the Act in 1955, voluntarily acquired the citizenship of another country.”

The order is given after an application was received by the Union ministry for determination of the Silva’s nationality status.

According to the order, Silva, when asked to explain about details in the application, had denied all the contents mentioned therein and specifically denied that he has got his birth entered in the central registry of births, Lisbon under number 977517 of the year 2010 or acquired Portuguese citizenship.

The order,  says that the embassy of India in Lisbon to which the documents received with the application were referred for verification “has confirmed that …Silva is a Portuguese national since 21.07.2010 and this is based on his birth registration dated 21.07.2010 in the central registry office in Portugal. Further, the embassy of India in Lisbon has also confirmed that police clearance certificate is not a legal requirement for birth registration in Portugal.

Fernandes had, earlier on May 30, secured an order from Delhi High Court to the Home Ministry to decide the citizenship of Silva within eight weeks. The Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Singhvi, however, set aside the order of the single judge on July 19 on the ground that it did not even hear Silva and directed the High Court to reconsider the case. A month later on September 19, the High Court allowed withdrawal of the case on the plea that “the authority is expected to move with reasonable dispatch” to decide issue of Silva’s nationality status.

The Home Ministry order comes on the heels of the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court on July 5 dismissing an election petition filed against Silva by defeated Congress candidate Valanka Alemao, daughter of former chief minister Churchill Alemao.

According to legal sources, there is an appeal against the High Court judgment and the Home Ministry’s order will be cited before the Supreme Court Bench headed by Justice G S Singhvi on Wednesday, when the case is listed, for declaring Silva’s election as null and void.

Valanka’s case is that Silva was not an Indian citizen on the date he filed his nomination for the assembly election in 2012 and only an Indian citizen is allowed to contest under the Representation of People Act (RPA). His Portuguese citizenship was confirmed to the Indian embassy in Lisbon by the Portuguese government

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