Filmmaker Karan Johar may have India’s tardy legislative process to thank for the birth of his twins, Yash and Roohi, through surrogacy. Born seven months after the Union Cabinet passed, and three months after the Lok Sabha saw the introduction of a Bill that forbids anyone but married couples from availing of the services of a surrogate mother, that too only for “altruistic” reasons, the twins’ father would certainly not have been able to legally become one had the Bill been passed by Parliament.
Johar is single and has long battled allegations about his sexual orientation, a subject he dealt with in his recently released memoir.
WATCH VIDEO |Father Karan Johar Introduces Roohi, Yash To The World
After the Bill was cleared by the Union Cabinet in August last year, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had said: “We do not recognise homosexual or live-in relationships, we do not want to entitle them…it is not in our ethos. That is why they are not allowed to commission babies through surrogacy.”
This position is contrarian to that of the government on adoption. It allows single parents to adopt children, and stood its ground despite opposition from organisations like Missionaries of Charity.
The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016, that was introduced in the Lok Sabha in November last year allows surrogacy only for Indian citizens who are married for at least five years, are aged between 23 to 50 for women and 26 to 55 years for men, provided they do not have any living child, biological or otherwise. A child who is mentally or physically challenged or suffers from a life threatening disease does not count. The Bill is currently with the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Health and Family Welfare to which it was referred in January. It has three months to deliberate on it.
The Bill’s provisions rule out cases like that of Johar’s friend Shah Rukh Khan, whose son AbRam was born of surrogacy though he already had two other children. Actor Aamir Khan too availed of the services of a surrogate mother with second wife Kiran though he has two children from his first marriage.
The provisions in the proposed law are similar to UK’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 and the Surrogacy Arrangements Act that too bans commercial surrogacy. Neither allows single parenthood.
Johar, though, has got away by more than a whisker as the Bill only comes into effect 10 months after it is notified.
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