Eminent legal experts and jurists have called upon Parliament to enact a new law to deal with issues concerning surrogacy and inter-country adoption.
Referring to the government’s move to bring a law on surrogacy to prohibit commercial surrogacy, the speakers said the need of the hour was to enact a comprehensive law which will also deal with problems of inter-country adoption.
The Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2014 proposes to regulate and supervise surrogacy clinics, prevent misuse of ART technology, besides advocating safe and ethical practices of ART services.
The seminar was held in the capital last Friday to coincide with the release of a book, Surrogacy in India: A Law in the making — Revisited, authored by advcoates Anil and Ranjit Malhotra by Justice A.K. Sikri of the Supreme Court. The book examines this journey of surrogacy in India from 2005 to 2015. Former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee, Lord Diljit Rana, British Member of Parliament and Dr. Kavita A. Sharma, President, South Asian University, were the special invitees.
Speakers said the Bill contemplates that surrogacy shall be available to married Indian infertile couples only. It is proposed that foreigners, whether single or couples, with the exception of OCIs, NRIs, PIOs and foreigners married to Indian citizens, will be disallowed surrogacy in India. They said in reality, commercial surrogacy is in existence for the past over ten years and has become an unregulated medical tourism industry.
The speakers said inter-parental child removal from one country to another is not defined in any Indian legislation and is not specified as an offence under any statutory law.
The problem is compounded by the fact that India is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, 1980, which is acceded to by 93 countries worldwide. Hence, inter-parental child custody conflicts are invariably decided by Indian Courts on the principle of the welfare of the child as a paramount consideration in the best interest of the child.
A fugitive non-resident Indian parent declared a proclaimed offender in matrimonial proceedings may not even be able to see or talk to his children removed to India. An anguished parent armed with a foreign Court order and unsuccessful in its enforcement in India, attempts to abduct his own child in an attempt to repeat what the other parent did. They wanted a uniform line of thinking to give consistency in dispensation of justice till a legislative solution emerges.