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MEA Revokes Passports of Over 100 Goans


A recent memorandum issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has resulted in the revocation of passports of more than 100 people from Goa in recent months. These individuals, potentially unaware of the memorandum, are accused of withholding crucial information when attempting to surrender their passports after acquiring Portuguese citizenship.


GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Reasons for Passport Revocation
  2. Revocation of Passport and Issue of OCI Card
  3. What is the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Card?

Reasons for Passport Revocation

Goan’s Portuguese Connection:
  • Historical Background:
    • Goa was a Portuguese colony for about 450 years, from 1510 to 1961.
  • Portuguese Citizenship Law:
    • Individuals born in Goa before 19th December 1961 can register as Portuguese citizens.
    • Many Goans have registered in Lisbon and obtained Portuguese citizenship.
    • A Portuguese passport allows visa-free entry to various countries, including the UK and EU.
    • Overseas job and educational opportunities have driven Goans to pursue Portuguese citizenship.
2022 MEA Memorandum:
  • The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued a memorandum on 30th November 2022.
  • It addresses the “surrender of Indian passport on account of acquisition of foreign nationality by an erstwhile Indian citizen.”
  • Under section 10 (3) (b) of the Passport Act of 1967, passports obtained by concealing dual citizenship can be cancelled, even if not used for travel.
  • Previously, penalties were imposed for surrendering an Indian passport, but a 2020 Kerala High Court judgment invalidated this, stating only prosecution for Passports Act violations is permissible.

Revocation of Passport and Issue of OCI Card:

Dual Citizenship Issue:

  • India doesn’t permit dual citizenship.
  • Goans with Portuguese passports must give up their Indian citizenship.

Impact on OCI Application:

  • Revoked Indian passports prevent these individuals from applying for Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI).
  • Previously, a ‘surrender certificate’ was needed to apply for OCI cards.
  • Due to the passport revocation, this option was unavailable.

Current MEA Directive:

  • Passport authorities are now instructed to issue ‘revocation certificates’ instead of surrender certificates for passports obtained by concealing information.
  • This allows Indian nationals from former Portuguese territories with Portuguese citizenship to apply for OCI.
  • OCI status grants foreign citizens of Indian origin the right to reside and work in India indefinitely.
Portuguese Rule in Goa:

Historical Overview:

  • Located on India’s west coast, Goa was under Portuguese rule from 1510 to 1961.
  • It was captured by Afonso de Albuquerque and became a key trade hub for Eastern spices.
  • Remarkably, Goa was the capital of the entire Portuguese Empire east of the Cape of Good Hope for 450 years.

Path to Independence:

  • In the 1940s, as India approached independence from British rule, the fight for Goa’s freedom began.
  • Finally, on 19th December 1961, Goa was liberated from Portuguese rule after over four centuries of colonization.

What is the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Card?

Introduction and Purpose:

  • The OCI concept was introduced to address demands for dual citizenship from the Indian diaspora, especially in developed nations.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs defines an OCI as:
    • A person who was an Indian citizen on or after 26th January 1950; or
    • Eligible to become an Indian citizen on 26th January 1950; or
    • A child or grandchild of such a person, among other criteria.
  • According to Section 7A of OCI card rules, applicants are ineligible if they, their parents, or grandparents were citizens of Pakistan or Bangladesh.
  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2015 merged the Person of Indian Origin (PIO) category with the OCI category.

Launch and Background:

  • The OCI Card scheme was launched during the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in 2005.
  • It was initiated to recognize the strong emotional bond of the Indian diaspora with their homeland and to acknowledge their contribution to the nation’s development.

Benefits of the OCI Card:

  • Multiple entry, multi-purpose lifelong visa to India.
  • Exemption from registering with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) regardless of stay duration.
  • Parity with Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) in financial, economic, and educational sectors.

Limitations and Restrictions:

  • No voting rights.
  • Prohibited from purchasing agricultural or farmland.
  • All activities, except research, require special permission from the Indian Mission/Post/FRRO.
  • Holders cannot participate in elections or hold public office, reflecting the government’s stance on distinguishing between citizenship and overseas citizenship.

Current Scenario:

  • The OCI card scheme is a significant part of India’s efforts to strengthen its relationship with its diaspora.
  • As of March 2020, over 3.5 million OCI cards had been issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • The majority were issued to foreign nationals in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada.

-Source: The Hindu

May 2024