Goa Dy Speaker in citizenship row, denies claims that he is Portuguese
Isidoro Fernandes, newly elected deputy Speaker of the Goa legislative assembly on Monday denied claims that he is a Portuguese citizen after a purported copy his birth certificate being registered in Portugal emerged online and sparked a controversy.
Fernandes said that there was no truth in the allegations and claims that he was a Portuguese citizen were false.
The deputy Speaker’s denial came after lawyer-activist Aires Rodrigues produced a copy of the registration of Fernandes’ birth in Portugal and alleged that he was a Portuguese citizen
“The current Canacona MLA had obtained Portuguese Nationality on 22nd April 2014,” Rodrigues alleged in an email to journalists and demanded that chief minister Pramod Sawant should immediately drop Fernandes if he does not resign on his own.
“I have not applied for Portuguese citizenship. Let him prove what he has said, that I am Portuguese citizen. I am not a fool to be a Portuguese citizen and stand for elections,” Fernandes said.
Claiming Portuguese citizenship is an avenue available for those persons born in Goa prior to 1961 and their children up to three generations. Unlike the British, which considered India a colony, Portugal which became a republic in the early 20th century had extended full citizenship rights to those living in the overseas territories.
Thousands of Goans have through this avenue, obtained Portuguese citizenship, surrendered their Indian citizenship and migrated to Europe, primarily to the UK, where they now live and work.
Registering one’s birth in Portugal is the first step towards being given Portuguese citizenship, while dispute remains whether registering itself is construed as having acquired Portuguese citizenship.
“It is a great opportunity to sort out the issue whether transcription of birth in Portugal entails loss of Indian citizenship, once and for all. My view is that transcription of birth of those born in Goa before December 19,1961in Lisbon may not result in loss of Indian citizenship,” Radharao Gracias an independent lawyer said.
Isidoro is not the first MLA to be accused of having acquired Portuguese citizenship. In 2012, Caetano Silva and independent MLA and Glenn Souza Ticlo a BJP MLA were accused of not being Indian citizens.
According to Indian law, people who avail of citizenship of other nations cease to be citizens of India.