New Delhi(PTI): Foreigners cannot rent a womb in India, government on Wednesday told the Supreme Court.
Surrogacy services would only be available for Indian couples, it said in an affidavit filed before the apex court. “The government does not support commercial surrogacy…No foreigner can avail surrogacy services in India,” the affidavit said adding that surrogacy would be available “only for Indian couples”.
The government told the court that it has decided to prohibit the import of human embryo for the purpose of commercial surrogacy for foreigners. Recently, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has decided to withdraw its 2013 notification allowing free import of human embryo to India for artificial reproduction. Import of embryos for research would, however, not be banned, the Centre clarified.
“It is respectfully submitted that adequate provisions will be made in the enactment to prohibit and penalise commercial surrogacy services,” the affidavit said. Meanwhile, the court expressed dismay over a news report, containing details of Centre’s probable reply to be filed before it, which said that it would not allow couples from foreign countries to have children through surrogate mothers here.
A bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi took exception to the fact that the government’s stand on commercial surrogacy was published in an english newspaper before being filed in the apex court. “We don’t need any clarification from you. You file the affidavit in the registry…,” the bench, which was critical of the leakage of the information to a news paper before the affidavit is filed in the apex court, said and asked Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar to instead of tendering the reply in court, let it be filed in the registry.
As per the news report, the Centre, in its affidavit, will take a stand to ban commercial surrogacy and not permit couples from foreign countries to have children through surrogate mothers. Earlier, the court had expressed concerns over “trading of human embryo” and directed the government to re-examine the policy to allow import of human embryo while asking it to bring commercial surrogacy within the ambit of law.
“You (Government) are allowing trading of human embryo,” the court had observed, saying commercial surrogacy should not be allowed but was still going on unabated as ‘business’ in the country without any legal sanctity.
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. The court was hearing a PIL 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.