Valanka Alemao’s petition challenging Benaulim MLA Caitu Silva’s election has implications for hundreds of Goans queued up for Portuguese nationality.
After a no holds barred battle at the election, arch rivals Valanka Alemao and MLA Caitu Silva (of the Goa Vikas Party) are bracing for yet another round. The fight this time will play out in the courts.
Valanka Alemao’s disqualification petition which claims that the Benaulim MLA has acquired Portuguese nationality comes up for hearing before the High Court of Bombay at Goa on Friday.
According to the petition, Silva’s registration of his birth at the Lisbon Conservatória dos Registos Centrais on July 21, 2010 implies he ceased to be an Indian national. The MLA is not entitled to be on the electoral rolls nor was he eligible to contest an election in India, the lawsuit argues.
“The legal effect of Caitu obtaining registration of his birth in the Central Register of Portugal on July 21, 2010 in terms of law of that country amounts to acquisition of Portuguese citizenship,” the petition points out, adding that the MLA’s birth documents have been recorded with the Portuguese authorities under registration No 977517 two years ago.
Among the attachments filed with the lawsuit is a note from the Indian Consular Attaché in Lisbon to the Union External Affairs Ministry that says that Caetano Rosario Silva was registered as Portuguese national on July 21, 2010 as per documents and confirmation by the Foreign office.
Alemao has also produced a letter she received dated April 2, 2012 from K A P Sinha, IAS, private secretary to Union Minister of State for External Affairs, informing her that the Indian Embassy in Lisbon had confirmed that Caetano Rosario Silva is registered as Portuguese national since July 21, 2010.
Silva, who defeated Alemao in Benaulim in the March 3 election, appears unfazed. “Where is the question of my acquiring Portuguese nationality when I am very much a citizen of India. These allegations are false and baseless and my lawyers will give them a fitting reply in the courts,” he told HeraldReview.
The MLA’s close aides are however annoyed that the External Affairs Ministry has stepped into the case. “I had obtained an Indian passport way back in 1976. I have not applied for a passport of any other country, nor am I a Portuguese national,” Silva insists.
Does he have an explanation for the documents of his birth registration in Portugal produced by Alemao? Silva who questions the authenticity of these documents is also playing his cards close to his chest till the court hearing.
The MLA and six other candidates, besides the returning officer for Benaulim constituency, have been directed to file their written statements on the petition on August 10. The outcome of this lawsuit is keenly anticipated. The political implications are but one aspect of the case. The larger question concerns the thousands of Goans currently queued up for Portuguese nationality which gives them access to jobs in European Union countries. n