Proposed surrogacy law says no parenthood for singles
Bollywood celebrities like Karan Johar and Tusshar Kapoor became proud fathers via surrogacy but other aspiring singles may face roadblocks as a proposed law restricts this method by allowing only legally wedded couples.
Several experts including lawyers and doctors, barring a few, were of the view that the window of surrogacy should not be closed for single parents and the couples should have the option to choose anyone who is not a close relative as a surrogate mother.
However, senior advocate Shekhar Naphade had a different and mixed take on the entire issue. While maintaining that it has become a "fashion" among celebrities to become a single parent, he advocated doing away with the provision to allow only a couple's close relative to become a surrogate mother.
The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016, introduced in Lok Sabha last year, also faced criticism from practitioners of family law like Priya Hingorani and Anil Malhotra, who assailed the provisions which take away the rights of gays and lesbians from attaining parenthood with a clause that only legally wedded persons can go for surrogacy.
The proposed law virtually bars all others like unmarried couples, single parents, live-in partners and homosexuals from opting children through surrogacy.
Dr Bikas Kumar Singh, Chief Medical Officer at a major private hospital here who preferred not to comment on the aspect of single parents, expressed reservation on the point of restriction that mandates a surrogate mother to be a close relative.
"The last hope for a childless couple should not be curtailed but extended with due filtering," Singh said.
Giving a broader perspective, Hingorani said it was not correct to only allow a close relative to be a surrogate mother as her confidentiality has to be maintained and anyone else should be permitted to do so.
Malhotra said the bar on unmarried couples and others from opting for surrogacy was violative of Article 14 of the Constitution which provides equality before the law and equal protection.
As per the bill, the intending couples should be legally married for at least five years and should be Indian citizens to undertake surrogacy which would be allowed only for altruistic reasons. It also specifies the age limit for an infertile couple, where the woman should be aged between 23-50 years and the man between 26-55 years.