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Whether Parents Of A Deceased Unmarried Man Have Right Over His Preserved Sperm? Plea Filed In Delhi High Court

Suhavi Arya
5 Feb 2022 5:14 AM GMT
Whether Parents Of A Deceased Unmarried Man Have Right Over His Preserved Sperm? Plea Filed In Delhi High Court
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An interesting case has come up before the Delhi High Court wherein the parents of a deceased unmarried young man have sought a direction upon the Ganga Ram Hospital to release their late son's frozen semen sample to them.It is their case that following the unfortunate demise of their son, they are the "sole claimants" over his remaining "bodily assets" and such, the Hospital's action...

An interesting case has come up before the Delhi High Court wherein the parents of a deceased unmarried young man have sought a direction upon the Ganga Ram Hospital to release their late son's frozen semen sample to them.

It is their case that following the unfortunate demise of their son, they are the "sole claimants" over his remaining "bodily assets" and such, the Hospital's action of denying them access to the semen sample is violative of their rights.

Notices in the matter were issued to the Health Department of Delhi government and the Hospital in December 2021. Justice V. Kameswar Rao has now posted it for hearing on 13 May 2022.

The plea raises an interesting question as to who has the legal rights over an unmarried deceased man's sperm sample.

The facts of the case are that the petitioners lost their 30 year old son to cancer in September 2020. When the petitioner's late son was undergoing treatment in Ganga Ram Hospital, the doctors at the Hospital had informed them that treatment of cancer may lead to infertility. Therefore, the late son decided to preserve his sperm in an IVF lab of the same Hospital in June 2020.

After the death of their son, the petitioners approached the Hospital to release their son's sperm to them to carry on their son's legacy but the Hospital refused, stating that there is no clear direction from the State in this regard.

Hence, this petition was filed.

Senior Advocate Dinesh Kr Goswami, appearing for the petitioners relied on the case of Sanjeev Gulati v. Ganga Ram Hospital 2005 SCC OnLine Del 1334, which states that an aggrieved person may approach a Court under Article 226 against private bodies that exercises public functions and is not a 'State' under Article 12, if there is a public law element involved.

Advocate Subhash Kumar on the other hand submitted that Hospitals are allowed to collect and preserve sperm with the permission of a living person but the legal rights change after the person is dead. He went on to state that since there are no guidelines on this matter, relying on the Calcutta High Court's judgement in Asok Kr. Chatterjee v. Union of India, they have denied the release of the sperm to the petitioners.

In Asok Kr. Chaterjee it was held that the petitioner (Father) does not have any 'fundamental right' to such permission, merely by dint of his father-son relationship with the deceased.

If Married, Only Dead Man's Wife Has Right Over Preserved Sperm; Father Doesn't Have Any Right Over Son's Progeny: Calcutta High Court

Counsel for the petitioner however sought to distinguish the case, stating that in Asok Kr. Chatterjee (supra), the deceased was married but in the present case, the deceased was unmarried, with no other legal heirs.

Senior Advocate Dinesh Goswami, Advocate Kuldeep Singh and Advocate Dhruv Srivastava argued for the petitioner.

Case Title: Gurvinder Singh & Anr. v. GNCTD & Ors., WP (C) 15159/2021

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