- The English translation of the Portuguese civil code, 1867, followed in Goa, is now available at the Official Gazette, a year after the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court took suo moto cognizance of a news article that pointed out the inefficiencies of the uniform civil code that often got lost in translation.
- The official gazette has published online the translated version of the code, following the March 2017 order of the Bombay High Court.
- The court had adopted a PIL following a report published by local daily O Herald titled ‘Constitutionalism and the judicial lapse in Goa’.
- Stressing on mistranslation of the uniform civil code, the article explained how lawyers who had practiced law before the Goan courts prior to Independence, continued to cite the Portuguese civil code translated and interpreted by themselves, which often created confusion in courts.
- At times, the council and judges in court were not fluent in the language themselves and had to rely on the lawyers’ versions of the code, the report said, adding that it also violated Article 348 of the Indian constitution which was adopted by Goa in 1962.
- According to Article 348, “Language to be used in the Supreme Court and in the High Courts and for Acts, Bills, etc….shall be in the English language.”
- 57 years ago, Goa attained liberation from the Portuguese, but retained the Portuguese civil code, 1867, becoming the only state in the country to have a uniform civil code wherein laws on marriage, divorce and succession of people of all religions in the state are practiced on the same benchmarks, ensuring social order.
- As successive governments have debated on implementing a uniform civil code in the rest of the country, the Portuguese civil code is often taken into consideration and studied.