Now, changing names to be more difficult for ‘non-Goans’. Here’s why

Changing names is no longer available to everyone but only to those who were born in Goa and registered their birth and whose parents or grandparents were born in Goa.

A bill in this regard is expected to be passed in the Goa Assembly on Wednesday.

The Goa Change of Name (Amendment) Bill, 2022, introduced in the Legislative Assembly, mandated that any change should be made through a civil judge instead of approaching the civil registrar as usual. Until now.

The wording of the existing Act states that “any person” who wishes to change his name or surname or both as recorded in the birth register will have to apply to the registrar to proceed with the process, but “who was born in the State of Goa and whose birth was registered and whose parents or grandparents were born in the State of Goa” will be allowed to apply for change of name.

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The application will now have to be submitted to the Civil Judge (Lower Division) to continue the process.

Justifying the need for the change, Law Minister Nilesh Cabral said the move was brought to streamline the name change process in view of several controversial name changes where people were seen adopting Goan surnames that were completely unrelated to their original names.

“The Act provides for the creation of a document of vital importance… therefore it is mandatory for judicial officers to perform the functions under the Act,” the government said in its statement before the House.

Earlier, a petition filed in the Bombay High Court in Goa challenged the provisions of the Act saying that the petitioner wrongly allows anyone to change their name completely to their own.

“In the absence of such safeguards, such name changes are being carried out with impunity and these persons abandon their old identity and acquire a new identity – often changing names without changing religion and often adopting Christian names, which appears to be primarily a racket. Portuguese citizenship is available to Goans, either by birth or through parentage. They can prove they are Portuguese citizens through or through the grandmother,” said Viriato Fernandez, who applied.

“This name change has sometimes resulted in fakes by selling the properties of persons who are long dead or many of whom are away at other place(s) outside Goa or India,” he said.

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