16 Sep 2023  |   06:08am IST

Is the Official Translation of the Code of Comunidades authentic and faithful?

Visitacao B Monteiro

The Official English Translation of the Codigo Das Comunidades,1961 (Code of Comunidades) published by the Government in June 2012, and notified by Under Secretary (Revenue) in the Official Gazette, Series 1 No. 16 dated 19 - 07 - 2012, and reprinted in 2018 contains serious flaws and grave mistakes.

The Preface of the said translation starts with these words: “In pursuance of the directives of the Hon’ble High Court of Bombay at Goa, there was a need to prepare an “authentic translation” of the Code of Comunidades... etc. 

And here lies the hitch. Which directive of High Court of Bombay at Goa is the Preface speaking about? The Writ Petition no.406 of 2009 in the High Court had 18 prayers which are listed by the Judges when they disposed of the said Petition on 5th February 2013. It has direction to the Government to constitute a Committee within two months from the date of the disposal of the Petition, to hear the grievances of the petitioner, Celestino Noronha and others and submit a Report to the Hon’ble Chief Minister, if possible within a period of one year. 

Following disposal of the said Writ Petition on 5th February 2013, the Government instead of constituting a Committee to hear the grievances of the Petitioner constituted a Commission of Comunidades by Order No.  17/88/2009 -RD (5200/L) dated 05/04/2013.

 The prayer no.6 of the said Writ Petition reads as follows: “To order an authentic official translation of the Code of Comunidades to be prepared in English duly gazetted preceded by pre publication for suggestions and objections.” There is no specific direction of the High Court as regards to the translation. The translation, as written in the Preface was done by Egipcio Noronha Rodrigues now deceased and was revised by senior advocate Manohar S Usgaonkar also deceased.

As said in the beginning of this article, the official translation was published in June 2012 and notified in July 2012.  How, then, the Preface speaks of same being done at the directives of the High Court who disposed the said petition on 5th February 2013 and who has played this mischief? All this needs to be investigated. 

The said ‘official translation’ is full of flaws and grave mistakes which need to be corrected if it is to be called “ authentic translation” of the original Codigo Das Comunidades, 1961 (Code of Comunidades, 1961) and the earlier it is done, the better.  This unfaithful  and unauthentic “official translation” is in force since July 2012, being quoted in the Courts  including High Court as “authentic”. The same translation has been published by N D Agrawal together with the amendments to the Code of Comunidades about two years back and also Advocate Shashikant N Joshi, last month together with the full text of judgements passed  by High Court of Bombay at Goa in Comunidade matters from 1985 to 2023. 

 The Commission of Comunidades constituted by the Government on 05-04-2013  invited views, suggestions, objections about various issues listed in the said Petition through an advertisement in O Heraldo dated 22/07/2014. I also figure among one of those who deposed in writing before the said Commission, among the other things, some grave mistakes in the notified translation. They promised me to rectify the mistakes but till date nothing has been done. Similarly of late, I come to know that one component Savio Correia had also pointed out many mistakes in the said notified “official translation”. 

The very official translator Egipcio Noronha Rodrigues wrote to the Under Secretary (Revenue 1) Revenue Department on 3 October 2017 pointing out the various mistakes in the official translation and on 17 October 2017 he also sent a reminder to the Under Secretary (Revenue 1) about the corrigendum to the said English translation but no action was taken.  

An LAQ no 011 was tabled in the Goa Assembly by  Aleixo Reginaldo Laurenco, MLA  on 7 August 2019 about errors in “official translation’’ of the Code of Comunidades, but no response so far. 

There may be others also who might have pointed out about the mistakes but so far no action has been forthcoming from the Government to rectify the unfaithful and unauthentic “official translation” and the said translation continues to be quoted in the Courts and Amendments being carried out to the Codigo Das Comunidades, 1961 with this so called “official  translation”. May I be allowed to point out some of these grave mistakes for the knowledge of all including the Courts of law. They are the following:

In the Article 1(1) The words ‘debaixo de uma unica administracao’ has been translated as ‘under one single administrator’. Administration is much wider than Administrator. Administrator is only a part of the said Administration.

In the Article 1 (3) ‘O instituto das Comunidades de Goa, Salsete, Bardes, Mormugao e Ponda’  the word Ponda has been omitted in the translation. By this omission, the group of 28 comunidades which are included in the word Ponda group has been excluded.

In the Article 6 the word ‘foro/ foros’ is peculiar to the Comunidades and cannot be translated at all. Also the original word: ‘concedidas’ meaning granted has been omitted in the translation.

In the Article 10 (3), the original Portuguese version of the Code has these words: ‘por despacho fundamentado’ has been wrongly translated by ‘speaking order’. In the same number, the words: ‘

‘tratando-se de recurso....’ The word recurso has been translated as appeal instead of: filing a petition.

In the Articles 32 (1), 34 (1), 34 (2), 35, 36 and 64 (9) last paragraph the words: ‘capital social’ meaning social capital have been wrongly translated as share capital. By this wrong translation there cannot be any sessao /sessoes or general body meeting of the Ganvkars, but only of share holders. How then the sessoes or Ganvkars are held in Goa?

The section 3rd of the original code on pg 17 deals with the Meetings of the Comunidades. The Article 33 of the same section says: ‘the Comunidade tera quatro sessoes ordinarias por ano.....’ The word sessoes/ sessao is not an ordinary meeting. The word ‘Sessao’ has got certain importance and solemnity for example: Assembly session, Parliament session, etc. The word sessao/ sessoes has been wrongly translated as meetings. The word meeting does not convey the same meaning as sessao /sessoes. This is also repeated in Article 153 (5).

 In the Article 154 (1) of the original Code the words: ‘em materia contenciosa’ has been wrongly translated as ‘non contentious matter’. 

In the Article 49, the words: in the Portuguese Code ‘recorrer para o Tribunal Administrativo’ have been wrongly translated as: ‘may file appeal’ instead of ‘filing a petition’. 

There are many other mistakes amounting to over 100 that cannot be expressed in a small article of this nature.

Before concluding may I dwell on the following considerations:

1. When the very author of the official translation Egipcio Noronha Rodrigues writes to the concerned Government Department about the mistakes in the very official translation done by him, what can one conclude other then that somebody has meddled in his translation? 

2. The intention of the writer is to point out that the ‘official translation’ is not ‘authentic’ and amendments are carried out to the Code of Comunidades with this unauthentic, unfaithful ‘official translation’.

 I hope this article will open the eyes of the Authorities to order an authentic and faithful translation at the earliest. 

(The author is a well–known columnist and author of the book ‘Goan Village Communities’)


Iddhar Udhar