Goa Civil Code: Is it a draft of Uniform Civil Code?

24 Aug 2023  Read 1399 Views

With UCC being a hot topic of discussion for a long time now, here's a question for those who think the Goa civil code is ready- draft for uniform civil code throughout India, Have you read the entire code?

The 156-year-old, 647-page code rises above every religion which governs everything starting from gender equality in marriage to inheritance. This Goan Code is being praised as a model. But how uniform is Goa’s Uniform Civil Code?

Besides being a tourist hotspot, Goa has been an important center for education, trade & commerce, naval defense etc. Also, it is the only state with UCC in implementation.

Let’s delve into this blog to discuss the Uniform Civil Code in Goa.

Why is UCC in news?

The Law Commission ignited this topic and PM Modi took a firm stance in favor of the UCC implementation throughout India on 27th June. Also according to President Murmu; “The common civil code which provides equal rights to women and men of all communities living in Goa is an example of the cosmopolitan culture here.”  Goa is basically the only state which has the colonial-era Portuguese Civil Code applicable to all religions.

History of Goa law

Source: The Hindustan Times
  • In 1867, Portugal enacted a Portuguese civil code and in 1869 it was extended to Portugal’s overseas provinces which included Goa.

  • The law provides for compulsory registration of marriages before a civil authority, ensuring that the wife is an equal inheritor and is entitled to half of the “common assets” including those inherited by her husband in the case of a divorce (in the absence of a prenuptial agreement stating otherwise) and that the parents must compulsorily share at least half of the property with their children including daughters.

  • The Portuguese Civil Code in Goa continued in India as per Section 5(1) of the Goa, Daman and Diu Administration Act, 1962, through which the new Indian Administration ruled that:

“All laws in force immediately before the appointed day (the day Goa was liberated on 19th Dec, 1961) in Goa, Daman and Diu or any part thereof shall continue to be in force therein until amended or repealed by a competent legislature or other competent authority.”

Is the Goan Civil Code uniform?

As per the Goan Civil Code; Hindus, Muslims, and Christians in Goa are all subject to the same laws on marriage, divorce, and succession which means for example, Muslims who register their marriages in Goa are prohibited from engaging in polygamy and triple talaq. However, this code is not strictly uniform.

Uniform provisions under the Goan Code

  • When it comes to marriages, the law uniformly mandates a 2-stage process known as the first and second signature. The first stage is the statement of intentions (and calling for objections) and the second signature is the formal marriage.

  • As per the women’s rights activist Albertina Almeida; Half of the property has to be given to a daughter & the will should have the consent of both the spouses. This is a positive provision present in the uniform provision.

  • Albertina also stated that: “There is also the unique concept of matrimonial property rights, which is not found in the personal laws of the rest of India. In Goa, if nothing is spelt out at the time of marriage, the default system is the regime of the communion of assets, which means that upon marriage, couples will hold whatever assets they have each or jointly acquired or inherited before or after marriage as co-owners of the property.”

Non- Uniform Provision

There lies a difference in how the law recognises a valid marriage when it comes to Roman Catholics & non-Catholics. The first signature is common for all the religions while the church ceremony is considered a valid ‘second signature’ for Catholics recognising a Church marriage as valid for civil purposes.

When we talk about the marriage and adoption laws, it is said that there is no complete uniformity; rather it is far more gender-just than other laws in India, as claimed by the former member of the Goa Law Commission.

Big exception to Goan Civil Code

  • The Goan Civil Code doesn’t recognise bigamy or polygamy, including for Muslims but grants an exception to a Hindu man to marry once again if his wife doesn’t conceive a child by the age of 21 or a male child by the age of 30. Shocking right?

  • However this law was defended by Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, stating that this provision has never been implemented by far that is; since 1910.

  • The provision was introduced by an 1880 amendment called the Usages decree of gentile Hindus, as the Portuguese government wanted to appease Hindu businessmen having the greatest desire for continuing male lineage for their properties & possessions.


In conclusion, while the idea of a UCC in Goa may seem to promise equality and uniformity in personal laws, the reality is a little different. The Code is not as uniform as it was made out to be. Numerous arguments have begun in India as a result of PM Modi's statement. Although the Goa Civil Code, which was given by the Portuguese in 1867, is the only state where UCC has been in operation for many years, this code still has some flaws. So, in our opinion, it cannot be considered as an ideal draft for the implementation of Uniform Civil Code throughout India.

What do you think, is it a perfect model for the Uniform Civil Code in India? 

Let us know in the Comment Section.

About the Author: Kakoli Nath | 230 Post(s)

Kakoli Nath is a legal Content Manager at Finology Legal who pursued BBA.LL.B (5 years integrated course). She is a patent analyst & had also done advanced certification in Forensics Psychology and Criminal Profiling from IFS, Pune.

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