A High Court for Goa

By Radharao Gracias
13 July 2012 00:01 IST

Goa had the first High Court in the entire continent of Asia, with jurisdiction, over the scattered Portuguese empire in the east. Liberation, produced a demotion from the High Court to the Court of Judicial Commissioner. Upon persistent demands, a sop, by way of Bench of the Bombay High Court was set up at Panaji. The same interests, which had worked in vain, for the merger of Goa with Maharashtra, have this last quarter century, succeeded in denying a High Court for Goa.

In the year 1992, I had raised the issue of our own High Court in the Legislative Assembly. The proceedings went something like this:

Radharao Gracias: Will the Hon’ble Minister for Law be pleased to state what is the stand of the Government on a High Court for the State?

Luisinho Faleiro (Law Minister) : The Government. …………..

Dr. Kashinath Jalmi (interrupting): Goa is not mature for a High Court.

Radharao Gracias : What was the stand of the previous Government on the issue?

Luisinho Faleiro (after going through the papers) : The previous Government had written to the Union Government demanding a High Court for the State.

Radharao Gracias : Who was the Law Minister at that time?

Luisinho Faleiro : Dr. Kashinath Jalmi

Radharao Gracias : How could Goa which was mature for the High Court few months back when Dr. Jalmi was the Law Minister, suddenly become immature now?

All hell was let loose. Dr. Jalmi lost his cool and hurled a paper weight at me. He had been thoroughly exposed and could not take it.

The same hypocrisy still endures. The opinion poll verdict was against merger with Maharashtra. How come Goa has been judicially merged with Maharashtra? It is complete contempt of the verdict of 16th January, 1967, and a negation of democracy. Goa can be a full-fledged State only after it has all the three organs; the Legislature, Executive and the Judiciary.

The argument of the detractors is that there are no competent persons in the State capable of being appointed to the High Court. The one reality is that Goa has efficient, competent and honest judicial officers as good as any in the country. Two Goans (Justice G. D. Kamat Gujarat and Justice Ferdino Rebello Allahabad) have become Chief Justices of other States. Several Goans have become justices on the Supreme Court of our former colonial masters Portugal including a Chief Justice. But no Indian has ever been found fit to be appointed to the higher judiciary in Britain.

And the other reality is that we also have inefficient, incompetent and corrupt judicial officers as bad as any in the country. Unfortunately, I am not Shanti Bhushan to name them. I may have to exchange my black coat for the black Maria, if I do. Our national motto may be “Truth alone triumphs”, but the law says “Truth is no defence”. You and I have to abide by the law.

Goa’s judicial merger with Maharashtra has only enabled Maharashtrians and others, to grab judicial positions in the State. Some fifteen non Goans have been appointed to the Goa judiciary (even without basic knowledge of Konkani) while only one Goan, has found favour in the Maharashtra judiciary, over the last twenty five years. Today, I am informed, even peons and orderlies at the Panaji Bench of the Bombay High Court are brought over from Maharashtra. Are there no Goans, fit even to be peons and orderlies?

Recently, Congress Spokesperson, Abhijeet Manu Singhvi, so amply demonstrated the process and the procedure for the appointment of judges elsewhere, in the country. Do those who insist that Goa should not have its own High Court desire, that judges appointed by the Singhvi procedure be posted in Goa? Goans must be proud of the fact that so far not a single judge has been appointed in Goa with the intercession of Singhvi or his procedure.

There was a great opportunity for our own High Court, when Ramakant Khalap became the Union Law Minister. He naturally opposed the move; after all, he is a Maharashtrawadi, now in Congress garb. Presently, Shantaram Naik has moved a Bill in the Rajya Sabha for our own High Court. Shantaram for certain, is genuine. No dispute on that. Perhaps, he is also the only Congressman in Goa. But does the Congress in Delhi care for him? I hope it does. For the sake of Goa.

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Radharao Gracias

Radharao F.Gracias is a senior Trial Court lawyer and ex President of the South Goa Advocates Association. He is also former independent MLA of Goa. He has been an activist on issues related to Goa for more than three decades.

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Previous Comments

Why shd we Goans be Maharashtra-centric ? or for that matter,Marathi centric ?our obsessive hatred for Marathi/Maharashtra is the reason,behind this inferiority complex.Is not Goa too very small to get an independent high-court.?And is it something great to have a high court ? Actually ,it denotes ,that we have MORE CRIME / MORE DISPUTES ..absolutely NOTHING to be proud of ! One more point ,aren`t there many Goan officers/judges /lawyers /doctors/engineers in Maharashtra ?even the catholic clergy ? our Goan ,both Hindus and catholics have held v high posts even during Moghuls in Delhi,Marathas during Shivajee`s time and later during Peshawas`/ Scindias`,Holkars`, Gaikwads` ,also in Adilshahi ..Travancore and Cochi kingdoms...even the Portuguese served in these kingdoms ! And finally ,there are more Goans in Maharashtra/Karnataka than in Goa !

- Dalvi, Goa | 16 th July 2012 08:38


mr gracias how can u forget ground reality of goa. Atlest today there is rotation of judges from one high court bench to another and the judges cannot develop interest in cases. If there is a goa high court then parrikar will get appointed his relatives as judges for life and they will be making money for their next generations. they will be unstoppable and anyone who will complain will be punished. If someone else becomes cm he will do the same. Look at what has happened of administrative tribunal. Look at the jock called goa public service commission. Dont be blind by hatered of maharashtra. current system has ensured that goa produce excellant judges like ferdin, khandeparkar, kamat, silva. And forget congress, u are not a congressman, thank god you are not.

- a fernandes, panjim | 16 th July 2012 00:35


The United Kingdom did not have a Supreme Court until 2009, when all such functions were with the House of Lords...

- Ludovico, Old-Goa | 15 th July 2012 12:09


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