Confirm clients receiving notices from Ministry for External Affairs
The Portuguese travel agents in Goa have confirmed that a number of their clients have received ‘intimation’ letters or ‘notices’ in view of the recent circular issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) regarding Bilhete de Identidade or Assento de Nascimento.
It has also increased concern with at least 8 to 10 such cases being reported weekly to some passport agents as implications are significant, particularly for those who have registered their births in Portugal.
Consultant and catalyst facilitating Portuguese passport acquisition, Duarte Fernandes, said that around eight cases came to him in the last week alone, where clients reported receiving written communiqué about the revocation of their Indian passports.
“This transition has been in effect since November 1 this year while from November 2022, the procedure primarily applied to those holding Bilhete de Identidade,” he told The Goan pointing to the MEA circular dated November 30, 2022.
Another consultant from Navelim, who wished anonymity echoed concerns while emphasizing widespread impact on Goan citizens with Portuguese nationality. “Irrespective of religious affiliations, many Goans possess Assento for various reasons,” she revealed.
Ramifications beyond Goa
The passport agents have also been expressing apprehension about a huge population that could be affected. The ramifications extend beyond Goa with citizens of Daman & Diu, Puducherry, and other places also in possession of Assento de Nascimento or Bilhete de Identidade.
Applicants grapple with 'suppressing' material information
The Goan has obtained documents revealing instances where applicants are alleged to have suppressed material information pertaining to their foreign nationality.
“Indian passport issued/ reissued by suppressing material information having obtained foreign nationality on… Hence your passport number… revoked under section 10(3)(b) of Passport Act 1967 as per Ministry’s circular dated November 30, 2022 and accordingly surrender application closed and revoked passport number…returned to holder,” reads one of the letters by a Regional Passport Office, to a citizen who had applied for the surrender of his Indian passport.
“It has been decided to revoke the passport bearing number…issued on …to Shri/Smt… under section 10 (3) (b) (passport was obtained by the suppression/ wrong information provided by the holder) of the Passports Act 1967,” reads another intimation letter by RPO to another applicant who went for his renewal.
There are also instances where applicants have received notices from the Passport Office seeking a “proper explanation” regarding the circumstances under which they allegedly suppressed material information in their passport applications.
Legal experts question Centre’s stand on dual nationality
Speaking to The Goan, a senior High Court lawyer admitted that similar cases are currently pending before the Courts in both Goa and other jurisdictions, with some involving prominent politicians.
However, legal experts have raised concerns about apparent contradictions from the Central government on this matter across various platforms.
It is also learnt that those who have surrendered their Indian passports to keep their Portuguese nationality are encountering challenges in obtaining visas.
Another passport agent pointed out that government servants, including those in the judiciary and politicians, as well as those working in various government departments, might face consequences arising from the MEA order.
In 2017, Goa Forward intervened in waiving off lengthy procedure
PANAJI: In 2017, the Goa Forward Party had written to Goa’s former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar to intervene in waiving off a lengthy procedure wherein according to the then-new rules, it was mandatory to have verification of applicants’ birth records through MEA.
According to the GFP, earlier the Portuguese Consulate in Goa verified the records making it easier for the applicant.
The party that was then in the BJP government had sought that the process should either be reverted to the old procedure or MEA should give Goa a special concession.