• Short Summary

    Public hearings in the Indo-Portuguese territorial dispute, were opened at the International Court of Justice at the Hague, Holland, Sept 21.

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    Public hearings in the Indo-Portuguese territorial dispute, were opened at the International Court of Justice at the Hague, Holland, Sept 21.

    At issue is Portugal's claim to rights of passage over Indian territory from coastal Daman - at the entrance to the Gulf of Cambay on the Indian west coast - to the Portuguese enclaves of Dadra and Nagar Aveli, less than a dozen miles inland.

    When in 1954 nationalist agitation was stepped up, both the Portuguese Settlements and India, in favour of the union of the Settlements with India, volunteers of the 'Free Goa' Movement occupied the 200 square mile enclaves and ousted the Portuguese police force. The Indian Government did not officially take possession of Dadra and Nagar Aveli, but refused the Portuguese right of passage from Daman to, and between, the enclaves.

    Since 1954 the Portuguese have continually pressed their claim, while the 40,000 inhabitants - largely Hindu in religion and governing themselves for the first time - have continued demonstrating their unwillingness to return to Portuguese rule.

    Speaking at the Hague, Professor Telles, dean of the law faculty at Lisbon University, said Portugal had asserted her sovereignty in the territories ever since the Maharatta TreAty of 1779, and that India had recognised this sovereignty at a later date. Portugal was now seeking to have remedied the illegal method by which a de facto government had been established there in July 1954. To deny legal right of passage would be to reduce that sovereignty to nothing. Even in the absence of express words in the treaty, the right of passage was an indispensable condition of Portuguese sovereign power.

    India's answer to this is that under the various Maharatta decrees, Portugal acquired only certain revocable fiscal rights, sovereignty being retained by the Maharatta ruler, which by succession meant the British and ultimately Indian Governments.

    The Portuguese have already scored a victory in the preliminary issues of the case. India had stated six objections to the court's jurisdiction, four of which the court rejected by substantial majorities. The remaining two objections have been left over to the main hearing.

    The Portuguese team of lawyers at the Hague is led by Professor Bourquin of the University of Geneva. The Indians are led by their Attorney-General M.C.Setalvad. The Court, presided over by M. Klaestad of Norway, consists of judges from Argentina, Australia, Britain, China, France, Greece, Mexico, Pakistan, Poland, the UAR, Uruguay, the USA and USSR. As the Court does not include upon the Bench judges of the nationalities of the Parties, The Governments of India and Portugal have chosen their own judges Mohammed Chagla and Manuel Fernandes - to sit in the first phase of the proceedings.

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