Context: The Portuguese Civil Code of 1867, the so-called “common civil code” of Goa, is in the news again.
- The law ministry has reportedly told the parliamentary standing committee, that if it (the code in Goa) requires review it must be looked into.
- The Portuguese had occupied certain territories in the coastal regions of the country and established what they called Estado Portuguese da India (Portuguese State of India) with its capital in Cochin, later shifted to Goa.
- They did not interfere with the local customs relating to family relations and framed, in the mid-19th century, three separate codes of religion-based customary laws of Goa, Daman and Diu.
- The Portuguese Civil Code of 1867 was extended to Goa, Daman and Diu by a royal decree of November 18, 1869, declaring that the code would apply to the natives subject to the local usages and customs “so far as they are not inconsistent with morality or public order”.
- The three local codes of customary law were accordingly revised in later years.
- In 1910, the Portuguese parliament enacted two civil marriage and divorce decrees and, in 1946, a canonical marriage decree for Catholics.
- All of these too were extended to Goa, Daman and Diu.
- The family law applied by the Portuguese, both at home and in the occupied Indian territories, was thus not a uniform code but a loose conglomeration of civil and religious laws.
- Fourteen years after the advent of Independence, Goa and its affiliated territories were liberated and turned into a Union Territory (UT) under central rule.
- The Goa, Daman and Diu Administration Act of 1962 declared that all laws in force in these territories before their liberation would continue to be in force “until amended or repealed by a competent legislature or other competent authority”.
- None of the pre-liberation family laws was, however, amended or repealed.
- Nor was any central law on family rights, including the four Hindu law Acts of 1955-56, extended to any of the three territories.
- The myth of an outdated law of foreign origin now serving all inhabitants of Goa as a fully common civil code needs to be duly busted.
- Moreover, there is no justification for retaining over a century-old archaic law, 75 years after the independence of India.
- It seems quite inexplicable that the other civil laws used in the rest of the country cannot be extended to the same communities in Goa, Daman and Diu.
Must Read: Uniform Civil Code
Source: Indian Express