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Friday, Aug 23, 2019

Goa passes law to make ‘illegal’ name changes an offence

Citizens fear that name changes are used also to impersonate dead persons to claim their right to Portuguese citizenship that only persons born in the erstwhile Portuguese territories of Goa, Daman and Diu before 1961 and their children can avail of.

india Updated: Aug 09, 2019 23:29 IST
Gerard de Souza
Gerard de Souza
Hindustan Times, Panaji
The government moved to introduce this bill on account of an uproar in which several notices in newspapers came to light where ‘outsiders’ were changing their names to Goan names.
The government moved to introduce this bill on account of an uproar in which several notices in newspapers came to light where ‘outsiders’ were changing their names to Goan names.(File photo: PTI)
         

The Goa Legislative Assembly on Friday passed a Bill to make changing one’s name without following proper procedure a prosecutable offence with punishments ranging up to three months.

The Bill also sets out circumstances in which a person can change his or her name, allowing only those who have had their names written in the birth register wrongly or improperly, to have a spelling corrected and those who have been given “unpleasant or distasteful” names to have their name corrected.

Prior to this, people wishing to change their names were not required to mention reasons for requesting a name change which further allowed individuals to change their name to a completely unrelated name.

In addition to the prescribed circumstances, the applicants will have to submit a range of documents mentioning revised details like name, date of birth, parents name, name of the spouse, residential address among others and submit documents which prove the version of his existing name.

The government moved to introduce this bill on account of an uproar in which several notices in newspapers came to light where ‘outsiders’ were changing their names to Goan names, leading to fears that the changes were being done with devious intent.

For instance, Sonu Sharma changing his name to Francis Xavier D’Souza, Mallapa Masmardi to Mark Mascarenhas, Mohan Karunakar to Jimmy Lobo, Assiz Mahamad Ali to Assiz Max Fernandes, Maliksab Sanadi to Mark Fernandes, are some of the cases that came to light.

“Whoever changes his name or surname or both or publishes any notice/advertisement for such change without following the procedure as laid down… shall be punished with imprisonment which shall not be less than seven days but not exceed three months,” a newly introduced section of the law reads.

Goa has witnessed a series of fraudulent property dealings. The most high profile case emerged in 2013 when Dr Otilia Mascarenhas, a former India women’s Hockey captain and Arjuna awardee, much to her shock realised that her long dead uncle mysteriously sold his ancestral house. Even though Otilia’s uncle passed away in 2002, yet according to the sale deeds he sold the property in 2013. While the sale deeds have since been set aside after a lengthy court battle, the imposter is yet to be traced.

Citizens fear that name changes are used also to impersonate dead persons to claim their right to Portuguese citizenship that only persons born in the erstwhile Portuguese territories of Goa, Daman and Diu before 1961 and their children can avail of.

First Published: Aug 09, 2019 22:06 IST

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