The government on Wednesday informed the Supreme Court that it does not support commercial surrogacy and that a proposed new law will allow surrogacy only for Indian couples and not foreigners.
Submitting its affidavit in the court, the government said only “altruistic surrogacy” to needy infertile married Indian couples will be provided after their cases are examined by a competent authority.
“The government does not support commercial surrogacy and also the scope of surrogacy is limited to Indian married infertile couples only and not to foreigners…adequate provisions will be made in the enactment to prohibit and penalise commercial surrogacy services,” stated the affidavit.
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According to the draft of the new law, The Assisted Reproductive Techniques (Regulation) Bill, 2014, various provisions relating to surrogacy and rights of the surrogate mothers have been incorporated and the consultation process was underway to finalise the Bill.
Further, in view of objections by the Health ministry, the government said the Commerce ministry has restricted the import of embryo for research purposes; it cannot be imported for commercial surrogacy any further.
On a court query whether both the surrogate mother and the genetic mother can be said to be the mother of the surrogate child, the affidavit replied parentage is “very complex” and this issue will be settled in the proposed law after consultation with the ministries of Law and Women and Child Development.
Moreover, under the new law, penalty on couples refusing to take custody of a surrogate child born with disabilities has also been proposed. “The respondent (government) is in the process of bringing a comprehensive legal framework for not only protecting the rights of surrogate mothers but also for prohibiting and penalising commercial surrogacy. In order to do so, the respondent will require some time,” pleaded the government.
The affidavit has been filed in response to 14 specific issues that were framed by a bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice N V Ramana which heard a matter relating to commercial surrogacy. The case came up for hearing on Wednesday but the bench declined a plea by Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar to tender the affidavit in the court and respond. The bench asked Kumar to file the affidavit in normal course and fixed the case for hearing on November 24.