The Goan judiciary has all good to speak about one of their senior most judges in the state, Dr Alvaro Noronha Ferreira. As he turns 90 today, he is still a guiding force for those in the legal field. Originally from Margao, Alvaro Mouzinho Alberto de Noronha Ferreira is the son of late Caetano Filipe Ferreira and late Palmira Noronha. Born on May 27, 1933, in Mozambique, he is the fourth of five children, first three girls and the last two boys. On the family’s return to Goa, Alvaro completed the Lyceum Course in the Liceu Nacional Afonso de Albuquerque, at Panjim and travelled to Portugal where he joined the Law Course at the University of Coimbra. According to a contemporary of Dr Alvaro, 92-year-old Dr Fernando Jorge Colaco, Dr Alvaro in 1957, returned to Goa and was appointed as Delegado do Procurador da Republica’, or Agent of the Public Ministry in the “Comarca” (Judicial Division) of Daman, of the common cadre of the Overseas Judiciary. After about three years in the post, he was transferred and appointed as Municipal Judge of the then ‘Julgado Municipal Especial’ of Mormugao, at Vasco da Gama. After the Liberation of Goa in 1961, he has been judge in the ‘Comarcas’ of Salsete, llhas and Bardez, promoted to the District and Sessions Judge in North and South Goa, till his retirement by superannuation in 1993. He served the judicial system in Goa for 36 years with unfailing dedication, honesty and good intentions. As Dr Fernando also says, in the inner circle of his family, Dr Alvaro is fondly known as ‘O do Bom Conselho’ (The Man of Good Counsel). Dr Alvaro has been steadily supported by his wife, Maria Satya Costa, a biochemist. They were married in 1975 and she quit her job as an assistant professor at Lisbon University to live in Goa. They are blessed with four children, Filipe (PhD robotics), Dr Carlos, a specialist in gastroenterology in Portugal and Dr Teresa Ferreira, head of the Department of Neurology at the Goa Medical College, Bambolim and Adv Jorge, and five grandchildren. Former Judge, High Court of Bombay, Justice Filomeno Manuel Reis enrolled as an advocate in 1981 and practiced in civil and criminal Courts in the State of Goa and before High Court of Bombay, Goa Bench, in Civil, Criminal, Constitutional and Company matters for 26 years and specialized in Civil Law before being appointed as a High Court Judge. “We join countless others in wishing eminent judge Dr Alvaro de Noronha Ferreira on this memorable milestone occasion of his birth. He exemplified the ideals of a judge committed to consider each case carefully, meticulously and fairly. As a young lawyer, I was immensely inspired by his practical wisdom combined with admirable civility, unceasing energy and a healthy sense of self-deprecating humour. His humbleness, unpretentiousness, uprightness and human compassion are some of the pristine qualities which will always endure. May God continue to infinitely bless him in the years to come in the company of his loveable family,” says Justice F M Reis. A senior advocate for over four decades, Adv Radharao Gracias, recently released his first fictional book, ‘A Shortcut to Tipperary’. When it comes to sharing his experience in court with Dr Alvaro, he says, “Dr Alvaro is one of the judges who would pass orders whether favourable or non-favourable irrespective of that, they were passed on merit as he saw it. His ways were such as a judge in my time which is very rare. He was a one of a kind and well-mannered judge and he knew how to deal with lawyers. That is the reason even at his retirement he was held with high esteem among the lawyers fraternity. He never has any airs about himself and he treated all, whether rich or poor, mighty and the not so might, the same. He has always been equitable to all.” A retired banker, Sanjeev Kerkar has known the Costa family, especially Satya and her sister late Dr Adelia Costa, who served as the director of Abade Faria Hospital, the then psychiatric hospital in Panjim, and the first Goan woman to obtain the specialty of neurology in 1958. “I have known Dr Alvaro for over many years and since we are now mostly based in Mumbai, whenever I visit Goa, we meet Dr Alvaro and Satya. Goa is blessed with a fine judge like Dr Alvaro and even after his retirement, he continued serving the people. He was also conscious about the people who could not get aid to resolve their legal issues. He was always free for consultation. On the personal front, the conduct of the entire Ferreira family is extremely polite, professional and thorough. They are very humble, helpful and will come down to the level of the person without any airs,” says Sanjeev. Adv Zilman Coelho Pereira, the president of High Court Bar Association has been the Advocate General of Goa, two terms in a row. Speaking about Dr Alvaro, he says, “Dr Alvaro has dispensed justice as a good judge and he has been qualities of being a good person and a good judge. When I was the Advocate General of Goa, he was the chairman of Goa Public Service Commission and he acted impartially and he was just. I took him as a judge not out of fear but more as a friend. Compared to those days, the quality of judges like him are a rarity now.” Caranzalem-based Agnelo Po has worked as a stenographer in the Panjim Court from 1969 onwards and has been in close contact with Dr Alvaro since then. “I have known him for over 50 years and he is a gem of a person. Even after retirement in 1993, he kept himself busy and could be seen right from 6 am to 7 pm, wearing crisp ironed shirts and pants and always well dressed with polished shoes and working for the people. I took his inspiration and after my retirement in 2007, within 15 months, I started working for Justice Eurico Santana Da Silva,” says Agnelo. Incidentally Justice Eurico and Dr Alvaro have remained friends since their university days at Coimbra. He further adds, “Dr Alvaro is a good friend and we are more than just employee and employer. He loves gardening and one of his favourite plants was a lime tree on the terrace of his house in Miramar that gave fruit throughout the year. He also tried his hand at carpentry. You can start a conversation with him on any topic as he is so well read and well informed. Even at the age of 90, he still goes out for walks in the neighbourhood.”
Dr Alvaro de Noronha Ferreira has left his just imprint on the Goan Judiciary system and still continues to inspire the young to follow the profession with great integrity.