| REPRESENTATION OF INDIGENOUS GOANS
We, the people of Goa and lovers of Goa, kindly place this petition on mischief and frauds played by the Government of Goa, Revenue Authorities and politicians against us. We proceed first to explain our status with the chronology of events as preliminary background information for the knowledge of all concerned, followed by an attempt to explain the chicanery that have led to the current situation and the relief we seek:
1. The Goan villages were constituted by our forefathers during times immemorial before the concept or term “State” came into existence. Our villages were not created by the State nor do the villagers hold any land or rights by way of grant or assignment or gift by the Rajas, Kings or State.
2. We, the direct sanguinary male descendants of the original founders of the Villages are called “Gaunkars” – meaning establishers of the villages i.e. absolute owners in common of this self established and constituted Villages. Therefore, the Gaunkars constitute the GAUNPONN/GAUNKARY which in Portuguese is called “Comunidade” and in English language its rendering would be “Commune”.
3. Since ancient times we are governed by our own laws founded on Customs and Usages issuing from Dharmasastras. Down the centuries we also absorbed some Continental laws which do not conflict with our original laws. This Private Law practiced in common by the Village Communities (Comunidades) since times immemorial stands codified as the “Code of Comunidades, 1961”, and recognized by the State vide the Legislative Diploma No. 2070 dated 15th April, 1961.
4. Comunidades being sui generic institutions and not creations of the State, the whole village is in absolute ownership ab initio with the Comunidade. All the private properties held by the members of the public within its perimeter have issued out from time to time from the Comunidade and the same are recorded in the relevant books of the Comunidades.
5. Upon the conquest of Goa from the then ruler by the Portuguese on 25/11/1510, they made a treaty with the indigenous people guaranteeing the local people protection of their own existing local laws of customs and usages and that the Portuguese Government would only continue performing the fiduciary duty by providing administrative tutelage of the State in the same manner as the Rajas and Sultans did before them. Thereupon the Portuguese undertook a detailed study of the local laws of Customs and Usages, compiled them into a Roll and confirmed the same by the “Charter of Roll of Customs and Usage of the Gauncares and the Farmhands of the Island of Goa and Others Adjoining It” dated 16th September, 1526, issued by Afonso Mexia, Comptroller of Exchequer under the authority of the King of Portugal.
6. This law which covered civil, fiscal and criminal domains stood steadfast through thick and thin in spite of many attempts later on by the Portuguese to abrogate the Comunidades to the State. The original Carta de Foral/Charter of Roll was succeeded by the Rules of Governance (Regimento) and the Regulations (Regulamentos) but these always stayed within the ambit of the original Charter.
7. On 9th May, 1901, the King of Portugal passed a “Law” stating: (Article I) “The dominion of the State in the overseas are all the lands which, on the date of publication of this law, does not constitute private property, acquired in terms of Portuguese legislation” and on 24-11-1917 a provincial Decree No. 3602 which was passed to regulate Government lands, reiterates the above Law of 1901 at Article I: “The property of the Portuguese State of India are all those immovable which do not belong on the date of promulgation of this diploma to another collective or singular person”. The provision of this Decree No.3602 of 1917 was not applicable to be governed by their “Regulamento” as per the old treaty of 1510. When the notion of code came into existence following Code Napoleon, Regulamento was replaced finally by the Code of Comunidades recognized by the State in terms of Diploma Legislativo No. 2070 dated 15-4-1961.
8. Thus we see that the rights or grants made over the lands and villages belonging to the State continue to be regulated by the Decree No. 3602 of 1917 and the rights/grants made over the Comunidade lands/villages continued to be governed by the relevant Code of Comunidades. The two laws have always been parallel without any overlap or precedence over the other.
9. In 1968, the Goa, Daman and Diu Land Revenue Code, 1968, was enacted before State Land Tenures came into existence and expressly repealing the Decree No.3602 of 1917. Section 14/1 of LRC, 1968, uses the same words as Article I of Decree No.3602 of 1917, quoted above. The above is mentioned to clarify that the State Land Revenue laws do not cover Comunidades within their jurisdiction and the Comunidade Villages and their lands continue to be governed by their Code of Comunidades of 1961.
10. On 19-12-1961, Goa, Daman and Diu became part of political India. In 1962, the President was pleased to promulgate “The Daman (Abolition of Proprietorship of Villages) Regulation, 1962”. Next came the enactment of “The Goa, Daman and Diu Agricultural Tenancy Act, 1964. Thereafter came the enactment of Land Revenue Code, 1968, and the GDD Land Revenue (Disposal of Government Lands) Rules, providing for execution of Land Tenures. After this came the “Goa, Daman and Diu (Abolition of Proprietorship of Lands in Diu) Act, 1971. These laws were enacted to abolish State granted proprietorship Titles and to re-establish State Land Tenure in Daman and Diu but no such law stands enacted in this State of Goa till date.
Having briefly highlighted the documented chain of events leading up to the present, we now place before His Excellency the mischief and fraud committed by the then and succeeding Governments since the liberation of Goa in 1961, which are answerable by the respective authorities:
a) Revenue authorities appointed under LRC at the instance of the State Government carried out so called Revenue Survey, framed and prepared Occupancy Records in terms of Land Revenue Code/rules when not a single person in Goa is ascertained whether he holds State land tenure relationship to acquire the status of an Occupant when not under the contractual obligation to pay Land Revenue to the Government.
b) The Government also carried out suo moto Survey and prepared such records of rights in favour of every holder and owner of the land including the respective Comunidade. The enforcement of this Survey and Records continues to cause a great prejudice to the Comunidade Villages and has invited largest and endless number of litigations and misery to the public. This Survey and Records over Comunidade Villages are ab initio null and void and as such should be immediately withdrawn for lack of State Tenure Relationship.
c) Entire Administration of the Comunidades is maintained at the common cost of the Comunidades. The Government till date has not spent a single paisa on the Comunidades in whatsoever form. But the government is making illegal use of fraudulently prepared presumptive documents for feeding itself on the Comunidades. The enhanced ground rent accruable to the Comunidades at the time of transfer of properties is collected by the Government under a different pretext. The Government is falsely exercising powers which are not within its purview to acquire our lands at a pittance by force of the State machinery when there is total absence of element of Estate in land and reselling the same at exorbitant rates thus doing business out of our lands at our cost. Government and other authorities, particularly Panchayats are abetting in illegal encroachments and illegal constructions on Comunidade lands, which form vote banks for selfish politicians. None of these illegal beneficiaries are local people/Goans but people of alien tongues, manners, behaviour and background. A moratorium must be imposed immediately on these activities.
d) The Comunidades have no representation in the State Government and the Government is taking all sorts of opportunities to ignore and slight the Comunidades. Not satisfied in abetting in illegal activities, the Government authorities keep on doling out ‘Sulabh’ toilets, electricity connections, pipe-water, roads, voting rights/election rights, ration cards, identity cards, etc. to these illegal people while Comunidades are totally ignored in all matters. Any developmental activity goes to benefit the illegal encroachments and illegal constructions while local villagers are last to merit. The Village Clerks have been reduced and one Clerk is rotated for four Comunidades per week and one Sunday per month per Comunidade thus maiming the functioning of the Village Comunidades. Administrators and other staff appointed by the Government based on age-old contract and at the cost of the Comunidades are only busy in illegal disposal of lands and have no time to supervise the functioning of the Comunidades. No Administrator has ever visited any Comunidade to see its functioning, check records, meet the Administrative Committees, etc.
e) The fiduciary duty to the Comunidades which is synonymous with the tutelage of the State always precedes from the head of the State i.e. the President of India and his representative the Governor. It was so until very recent times when the Revenue Department usurped the power of the Governor and started lording over Comunidades as if it is its fiefdom. Closest example: Can the Governor’s ex-officio Chancellorship of the University be usurped?
There are many, many injustices, manipulations and frauds that are being continuously perpetrated against us, against our villages, against our Comunidades. We have silently borne all these indignities of a CIVILIZED STATE! Law Commission appointed after the Liberation of Goa went into a deep slumber. The above stated piecemeal legislations lacking coherence and linkages has caused confusion leading to enforcement of laws by the Government authorities in skewed manner adding to more confusion thus leading to acts of commission and omission which are going on continuously with no one to rationale or question. It is indeed sad that “Liberated Goa” is trampling over its most original institution which created Goa as we saw it at the time of Liberation – the green and verdant fields, endless girdles of levees or bunds, sluice-gates and the ‘cazan’ fields lying below the high tide level, water drains, roads, most of the churches and temples, etc. etc. etc. Such awe-inspiring effect was felt by the then Chief Secretary to the Portuguese State of India, J. H. Cunha Rivara that in his Brados a favor das Comunidades das Aldeas (Acclamations in favour of Village Comunidades) a pamphlet published in November, 1869, he said that the very land outside the Chamber office the Councilors thread is not theirs. This is the cause of prejudice arising out of jealousy and mean mindedness of our politicians.
Comunidade, the most ancient yet living institution of India has been the harbinger of peace, prosperity, justice, equity, stability, security, safety, progress, development and well being of the Villages and villagers. It is doing much more than and much before the Directive Principles of the Constitution of India came into existence. It therefore merits to be the living Heritage of India. Its unbiased and earnest study will provide insight to solve many of the societal problems in other parts of India.
Human Rights violations and violations against self-determination of the indigenous people of Goa are being continuously committed against us, our families and against our Comunidades and that too when India is a signatory to the UN Declarations. Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People and The Native Title Act of 1993 of the Commonwealth of Australia are conforming to our efforts of self-determination on our own lands.
Uncalled for interference by the Mamlatdars and all the authorities under Revenue Department has created a mess, decadence and misery to the villagers of Goa. The once prosperous self-sustained villages of Goa have been ruined. Most of the fields lie fallow, uncultivated, are denied for cultivation to those poor and/or in need of sustenance thus being overgrown with weeds, the levees/bunds are in dilapidated state, uncared for over three decades, such that breach has already taken place with ingress of saline waters for free looting for fishing under muscle power without caring that sweet water wells have turned insipid, not fit for human or animal consumption.
We therefore seek the following relief:
1. Recommend appointment of an inquiry Commission to examine the atrocities committed by the State under such color of law against law abiding citizens and the age-old Village Communities in this State of Goa without the lawfully constituted Revenue Villages of the Government.
2. Until such time restrain the Revenue Authorities from lording over Comunidades or wherever there is absence of State land tenure relationship with the members of the public
3. Stop the Mamlatdars from passing Orders and verdicts over Comunidades and their lands without any lawful authorization to this effect and in the absence of duly constituted Revenue Villages of the State Government.
4. Administrators appointed by the Government from amongst Government Servants are a fraud and misuse of the age-old treaty between the State and the Gaunkars.
5. Impose a moratorium on the dealings of the Comunidade lands by the government or any other person and restore the same to its original position.
The relief we seek may be summed up as under:
We desire that the fiduciary status quo which has been existing uninterruptedly between the Rajas, Sultans and the State on one side and the Comunidade on the other down the millennia and centuries, must be respected, maintained and continued.
SAVE GOAN IDENTITY
SAVE GOA’S OLDEST HERITAGE
Issued at the Seminar on
“Whether the Government Has the Power to Amend the Law of the Comunidades”
Held On 28th May, 2006, at Menezes Braganza Hall, Panjim, GOA.
Promoted in the interest of Gaunkars and Comunidades by:
Savio Herman D’Souza, President, New Age Society®, Goa.
Web site: http://www.geocities.com/newagegoa