The Centre in a significant submission today told the Supreme Court that it has barred foreign nationals from commissioning surrogacy in India under its proposed Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Regulation Bill, 2014.
The court is hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by Advocate Jayashree Wad who said the country has virtually become a “baby factory” as a large number of foreign couples have been coming to India in search of surrogate mothers.
On October 15, the last date of hearing, Justice Ranjan Gogoi heading the bench hearing the PIL had sought the centre’s view saying: “What are you doing about it You (Government) are allowing trading of human embryo. Commercial surrogacy should not be allowed but was still going on unabated as ‘business’ in the country without any legal sanctity.
The affidavit says the proposed legislation aims at proper regulation and supervision of ART clinics and banks in the country and to prevent misuse of this technology, including surrogacy, and for safe and ethical practice of these services.
The Bill was under consideration in the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for quite some time.
The Bill makes it mandatory for the couple to be married with the marriage sustaining for at least two years.
They will further need to submit a certificate, attested by the appropriate government authority of that country, conveying that the woman is unable to conceive.
The Government has proposed that surrogacy for foreigners in India shall not be allowed but surrogacy shall only be permissible to overseas citizens of India (OCIs), people of Indian origin (PIOs), non resident Indians (NRIs) and any foreigner married to an Indian citizen.
The eligible couple will have to produce a duly notarised agreement with the prospective Indian surrogate mother.
Further, they have to produce an undertaking that they would take care of the child/children born through surrogacy. Moreover, commissioning surrogacy in India would not be easy for foreigners married to an Indian because there are other conditions to do so.
The apex court had asked the government to bring commercial surrogacy within the ambit of law. It had asked the government to clarify whether a woman who donates her egg in commercial surrogacy can be said to be the only mother or both surrogate and genetic mother can be said to be mothers of the child.
The bench had also asked the Centre whether commercial surrogacy amounts to economic and psychological exploitation of the surrogate mother and whether the practice is inconsistent with dignity of womanhood. Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told the bench earlier that a surrogacy bill was being deliberated upon to regulate the issue and bill would be introduced in Parliament very soon.
In 2013, the Centre issued a notification allowing import of human embryos for artificial reproduction paving the way for foreign couples to bring in frozen human embryos and rent a surrogate womb in India.
Image from here.