In a situation where no law currently governs surrogacy procedures, the Mulund police have in a chargesheet held a 40-year-old businessman responsible for mentally harassing his wife Shubhangi for not giving birth to a son. The police have also blamed the accused, Prakash Bhostekar, for undergoing a secret surrogacy procedure without his wife’s knowledge. Currently, under central government notifications, commercial surrogacy is banned, except if done altruistically. When Bhostekar underwent the surrogacy procedure, guidelines permitted only singles or infertile couples to adopt the medical process.
The chargesheet states that Bhostekar allegedly submitted a false affidavit to show himself as single and underwent a surrogacy procedure in 2016 at Jaslok Hospital. In December 2016, Shubhangi (40) lodged a police complaint after Bhostekar was delivered a son through a surrogate mother and Shubhangi’s permission was not taken for the procedure.
“We have recorded the doctor’s statement but no case has been registered against her or the hospital,” said an investigating officer from Mulund police station. The chargesheet was filed in December and the three accused in the case are out on bail.
Bhostekar, who is a Mulund West-based businessman, his mother Laxmi Bhostekar and sister Rasika Wasar have been charged under Sections 498(A) (husband or relative of husband subjecting women to cruelty), 323 (causing hurt), 504 (intentional insult), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 34 (criminal act by several persons with common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
According to the complaint, Shubhangi got married in 1999 and has two daughters aged 14 and 4 years. The chargesheet states she was pressured to give birth to a son as she did not bring any dowry and was asked to undergo a sex determination test when she got pregnant for the third time.
In a statement by a private doctor recorded by the police, it was found Bhostekar had signed on her abortion papers and forced medical termination of pregnancy. In January 2016, he asked Shubhangi to leave the house and initiated the surrogacy procedure. Bhostekar’s advocate has, however, claimed he filed a petition for divorce, following which Shubhangi lodged a police complaint.
“The family has been held accountable for harassment but we cannot invoke other sections for surrogacy except for Section 498 of IPC in absence of a law regulating it,” said Sachin Patil, DCP, Zone VII.
While Shubhangi has demanded a separate complaint against Jaslok Hospital, the police are yet to take a call on it. In response to commissioning the surrogacy procedure, a Jaslok Hospital official said: “All appropriate protocols have been followed in this case and there has been no lapse from our end.”
The official added: “The hospital and doctor are being dragged in the personal conflict of the couple. The case should be settled between the couple.”