New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted time to the Centre till July to enact a law banning commercial surrogacy of begetting a child by a woman for other couples.
A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N.V. Ramana posted a PIL for hearing in July taking note of the submissions made by senior counsel K. Radhakrishnan for the Centre that the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 had been referred to a standing committee of Parliament in January and Parliament will consider the report for passing the Bill.
The court acting on a PIL filed by advocate Jayashree Wad alleging that 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, had banned commercial surrogacy.
Senior counsel Shekar Naphande for the petitioner brought to the notice of the court that there is no specific provision in the new Bill to prohibit surrogacy by a single parent.
The Bench recorded the submissions and permitted counsel to give a representation to the government in this regard for its consideration.
The new Bill proposes a complete ban on commercial surrogacy, restricting ethical and altruistic surrogacy to legally wedded infertile Indian couples only and who have been married for at least five years.
The husband must be between 26 to 55 years of age and the wife must be between 23 to 50 years of age. Overseas Indians, foreigners, unmarried couples, single parents, live-in partners and gay couples are barred from commissioning surrogacy.
Only a close married blood relative, who must have herself borne a child, and is not an NRI or a foreigner, can be a surrogate mother once in a lifetime. Indian couples with biological or adopted children are prohibited to undertake surrogacy.
Only medical expenses will be allowed to be paid. Commercial surrogacy, amongst other offences, will entail a jail term of at least ten years and a fine of up to rupees ten lakhs.
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. This notification was however, withdrawn paving the way for enactment of a new law....