The Goa Civil Code, also called the
Goa Family Law, is the set of civil laws that
governs the residents of the Indian state of Goa. In India, as a whole, there
are religion-specific civil codes that
separately govern adherents of different religions. Goa is an
exception to that rule, in that a single code governs all
Goans, irrespective of religion, ethnicity or linguistic
The Goa civil code is largely based on the Portuguese Civil Code (Código
Civil Português) of 1867, which was introduced in Goa in
1870. Later, the code saw some modifications, based
the Portuguese Gentile Hindu Usages Decrees of 1880
(Código de usos e costumes dos hindus gentios de
the Portuguese Decrees on Marriage and Divorce of 1910
(Lei do Divórcio: Decreto de 3 de Novembro de 1910).
After the establishment of the First Portuguese Republic,
the civil code was liberalized to give women more
the Portuguese Decrees on Canonical Marriages of 1946
(Decreto 35.461: regula o casamento nas colónias
The civil code was retained in Goa after its merger with the
Indian Union in 1961, although in Portugal, the original Code
was replaced by the new Portuguese Civil Code of
1966. In 1981, the Government of India appointed a Personal
Law Committee to determine if the non-uniform laws of the
Union could be extended to Goa. The Goa Muslim Shariah Organization supported the move, but it
was met with stiff resistance from the Muslim Youth Welfare
Association and the Goa Muslim Women's Associations.
Some ways in which the Goa Civil Code is different from other
Indian laws include:
A married couple jointly holds ownership of all the
assets owned (before the marriage) or acquired (after the marriage) by
each spouse. In case of a divorce, each spouse is entitled to a half
share of the assets. However, the law also allows antenuptial agreements, which may
state a different division of assets in case of a divorce.
These agreements also allow the spouses to hold the assets
acquired before marriage separately. Such agreements cannot
be changed or revoked. A married person cannot sell the
property without the consent of his/her spouse.
The parents cannot disinherit their
children entirely. At least half of their property has to be
passed on to the children compulsorily. This inherited
property must be shared equally among the children.
The Goa Civil Code is not strictly a uniform
civil code, as it has specific provisions for certain
communities. For example:
men have the right to
bigamy under specific circumstances mentioned in
Codes of Usages and Customs of Gentile Hindus of
Goa (if the wife fails to deliver a child by the age
of 25, or if she fails to deliver a male child by the age
of 30). For other communities, the law prohibits bigamy.
The Roman Catholics can solemnize
their marriages in church after obtaining a No Objection
Certificate from the Civil Registrar. For others, only a
civil registration of the marriage is accepted as a proof of
marriage. The Catholics marrying in the church are excluded
from divorce provisions under the civil law.
For Hindus, the divorce is permitted only on the grounds
of adultery by