Two years after the proposed amendments to the Surrogacy Bill, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday gave its nod to the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016, paving way for the regulation of surrogacy by setting up National Surrogacy Board at the centre.
The proposed legislation comes at a time when India has emerged as a surrogacy hub with reports of unethical practices, exploitation of surrogate mothers, abandonment of children born out of surrogacy and rackets of intermediaries importing human embryos and gametes.
A statement issued by the Press Information Bureau said: “The proposed legislation ensures effective regulation of surrogacy, prohibit commercial surrogacy and allow altruistic surrogacy to the needy Indian infertile couples.”
Once enacted by the Parliament, the National Surrogacy Board will be constituted at the central level, while the states and Union Territories will constitute the State Surrogacy Boards and State Appropriate Authorities within three months of the notification by the Central Government.
The proposed legislation aims to protect the rights of surrogate mother and children born out of surrogacy and will apply to whole of India, except for Jammu and Kashmir. It was introduced in the Lok Sabha in November 2016 and was later referred to a parliamentary standing committee on Health and Family Welfare in January 2017.
In another decision, the Union Cabinet, chaired by PM Narendra Modi, approved opening of 18 new Indian Missions in Africa over a four-year period from 2018-2021. Once operationalised, the number of Indian Missions in Africa will go to 47 up from 29, said officials. The decision, according to officials will enhance India’s diplomatic outreach in the African continent and allow India to engage with the diaspora in African countries.
The cabinet also cleared the second and final extension of the term of the commission constituted to examine the issue of sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes in the Central List, beyond March 27, 2018 for a period of 12 weeks up to June 2018.
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday also approved the continuation of the National Health Mission with effect from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2020 with a budgetary support of Rs 85,217 crore as central share over this period.