Local Goa News

Monday, May 30, 2016

Nadkarni dispels Goans’ fear over dual citizenship

State Advocate General Atmaram Nadkarni, who has been recently elevated to the position of the Additional Solicitor General of India, in an exclusive interview with ‘The Navhind Times’, speaks to Ramnath N Pai Raikar about the impact of the dual citizenship on certain Goans vis-à-vis registration of their births at the Central Registry in Lisbon. He also shares the legal side of the demand for granting special status to Goa and challenges he faced as the state Advocate General, among other topics

Q: Now that you have been entrusted with the responsibility of Additional Solicitor General of India and will have to shift to the national capital, how do you see in hindsight your four-year tenure as the state Advocate General, especially the state-related issues, which posed challenges before you?
One of the most challenging issues was getting to set up the Mhadei Water Disputes Tribunal because we had to be literally after the central government for the purpose. And then, from 2007 onwards, the Karnataka government had started construction of the channel – interconnecting duct – in Kankumbi, which had almost reached completion, and in the normal course water would have started flowing in it. At that stage, we applied for an injunction, argued the matter and got an injunction against Karnataka that it should not divert the water of Mhadei river. This was the second challenge. Similarly, Maharashtra had already completed its entire dam construction except the gauge portion in the middle. Once the gauge portion was constructed, the flow of water to Goa would have been stopped. Again we got an injunction in this case. It’s only because of our efforts and the case that we could put up, we succeeded. And I must mention that we received active support from the former chief minister Manohar Parrikar and even the present Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, who went all out supporting the cause.
Then the appointment of Lokayukta and that of the chairman of the Goa Public Service Commission was challenged in the court, the cases in which we again succeeded. The government also succeeded in the case about the so called, alleged scam pertaining to the construction Miramar-Dona Paula road, with the High Court dismissing the related petition. Furthermore, the matter as regards construction of the third bridge on the river Mandovi was cleared by the National Green Tribunal. And then the case against the garbage treatment plant at Saligao was also won by the government. We too succeeded before the National Green Tribunal in the forest classification matter, so that the criteria are not changed of the forest.
Some of the issues are however still pending before the court like the cases pertaining to the proposed Mopa airport and Terecol bridge. All these were definitely legally challenging issues.

Q: Do you foresee that many of the important cases you were handling as the state Advocate General on behalf of the Goa government would be affected due to your departure from the particular post?
Not at all! I do not think so. Honestly speaking, when somebody takes up the matter with seriousness, and fights it out with all dedication and sincerity, I believe that there will be no adverse effect due to my absence. And then, as and when the state government wants my help, I am always there for Goa, because of my love for Goa and Goans.

Q: Are most of the legal hurdles before the state government as linked to the Goan mining industry over? Or does the state government have to still wait for disposal of mining-related cases pending before the Supreme Court for gaining a clear field?
As you have seen, Goa government got a complete victory in the writ petition 435 of 2012. Every matter was left by the Supreme Court to the Goa government for determination, thus showing tremendous faith and trust in the state government machinery. We had projected before the Supreme Court name wise disposition and the political dispensation, which was there from 2005 till 2012, and then 2012 onwards. Furthermore, in the affidavit of the state government we had stated as regards the new government taking over, etc. The Goa government had framed the 2012 rules, which along with related policies were accepted by the Supreme Court, and further directed the mining to be carried on in accordance with the same. Secondly, I had specifically stated that the central empowered committee be kept out, which was also agreed to, with the Supreme Court not imposing CEC on the Goa government. Thirdly, the state got back the e-auction money, which otherwise would have gone to the CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority) Fund.
Of course, the issue is not over and presently we are continuing to face challenge, but that matter would also be handled and fought out.

Q: You had once mentioned that the role of the Advocate General was to inform the state government when it was “crossing the line”. Did the government actually do it at any time?
Frankly speaking, no! They did not cross the Laxmanrekha at any time.

Q: One of the important legal matters hounding the state government is the dual citizenship issue related to Goans who had registered their births at the Central Registry in Lisbon, although there is also a constitutional side to this matter. The central government has recently informed about setting up an authority in Goa to decide the contentious issue. Does the law permit such individuals, with double citizenship to stay in Goa minus their voting rights? Or they will have to quit the country and move to Portugal?
As far as the issue of residence is concerned, it is not linked to the citizenship; even a non-citizen can stay in this country. But yes, if one is not a citizen then he or she would not enjoy certain fundamental rights and certain other constitutional rights. However, the stay in Goa – in this particular matter – is not affected. What has happened in the state today is, on account of perhaps not being cognizant of the implications of registering one’s birth in Portugal, certain views are being expressed in certain quarters. Under the Portuguese law, registering of the birth in the registry amounts to acquiring a citizenship of that country. But under Section 9 of the Citizenship Act, which governs India, a person is required to give up his citizenship, and this giving up action must be expressed. This is the requirement of Indian law. Simultaneously, as far as Goa is concerned, the Liberation of Goa has been held to be a conquest of the Indian Army by the Supreme Court in its judgment. If it is a conquest, then between the conquest and the Liberation there is a vacuum, and after the Liberation, it is a military rule. There is a government of India’s Citizenship Order, which had given a choice to the Goan citizens, and which said that if you do not avail yourself to go back to Portugal or take citizenship of Portugal within six months of Liberation, then you are deemed to be a citizen of India. Frankly speaking, people in South Goa have nothing to worry because they have been citizens of India, they have never expressively given up their Indian citizenship, they have continued to be the Indian citizens, and therefore, merely recording an event which has taken place prior to Liberation, in the Portuguese registry, cannot deprive them of Indian citizenship. This is the exact legal position of the particular issue.

Q: The Constitution of India has laid down certain specific guidelines for granting special status to the states in the country. Goa has been coming out with this demand for long and is unsuccessful till now. In your opinion, is such a decision entirely based on the Constitution, or does the will of the central government to grant special status to a state also matter?
Firstly, the protection to a state by way of a special status is required to be looked into from different angles. One, economic angle; two, socio-cultural angle; three, geographical location; and finally, one has to make out a very special case for special status. Some politicians shouting in the media and saying that they will ask for special status obviously cannot get Special Status to the state. For this, one has to make out a case that the state is economically weak, or socio-culturally so threatened that it needs protection, so that only Goan residents can be allowed to purchase properties in Goa, and outsiders cannot be allowed to do so, on the lines of Himachal Pradesh and so on. The geographic location can also be utilised to prepare a case for special status, like was done in case of Andaman and Nicobar Islands or Lakshadweep Island, where although the landmass is surrounded by water, construction is allowed, even on riverine or sea portion. Goa, in fact is a peninsula, a piece of land that is bordered by water on three sides but connected to mainland, and so the restrictions, if any, are to be relaxed, one has to make out a special case. But merely steering this particular argument that we will demand special status – I have seen many politicians and political parties talking about it – has no meaning. One has to have a constitutional understanding of the entire matter, and only when one has a conceptual clarity, he can demand a special status. It is true that there are constitutional provisions, and it is also the will of the central government to grant it. However, to grant such a special status, we are required to make out a case, a very special extraordinary case to show why and for what reasons we must be granted the special status.

Q: Finally, how do you look at your new responsibility?
I am all set to commence my term in the new responsibility. I am grateful that such a responsibility has been bestowed on me. I look forward, and determine to work with all dedication, sincerity and integrity in the new office. It’s a challenging job, which I have accepted.

NT Network Goa News

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