Surrogacy in Indian perspective
India first legalized commercial surrogacy in 2002 and over the years has emerged as a global hub for surrogacy for international intended parents due to relaxation of any legal framework, restrictions and regulation for a long time, which ensures a legally simple route for their parenthood. Besides these, lucrative foreign exchange rates makes Indian surrogacy cost-effective. Surrogacy was made legal in India in 2002, and was framed under guidelines issued by Indian Council of Medical Research, but these guidelines were too sloppy and without any legislative backing. It was equivalent as having no laws.
The women who chose to become surrogate, were being subjected to unethical treatment, poor living conditions and exploitation. The Surrogacy agencies in India paid only a fraction of expenses to the surrogate mother, out of the hefty fees, of what they received from the intended parents. Poverty and lack of education pushed them back in this industry and they continued to be used as baby-making machines by these agencies for money-making, which also led to their physical and mental health being deteriorated. Off lately, a lot of irregularities were being committed in this industry and a “money-making racket” in the name of a child was perpetuated.
Promulgation of Surrogacy Laws in India
Commercial surrogacy has been a silently-operating booming industry in India, which according to the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), generates more than $2 billion annually, but in response to all these unregulated tactics and make way for a safe and legalized path for all concerned parties, the Court directed for the early enactment of statute, considering the large scale commercial practice in India. Even the Law commission of India in its 228th Report submitted on 5th August, 2009, recommended an urgent need for proper law for surrogacy in the country. The Report was titled as “Need for Legislation to regulate Assisted Reproductive Technology Clinics as well as Rights and Obligations of parties to a Surrogacy”.
The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 having been passed by the Lok Sabha is due to become the Law of the Land after its passing by the Rajya Sabha. It will be a landmark achievement for a country like India which has its own socio-legal problems. Many have been exercising this move as a progressive measure as it will curtail the exploitative practice involved commercially.
Many also see this as a regressive move, as it will strip women of autonomy over their own bodies and will violate their basic civil and fundamental rights. In Suchita Srivastava v Chandigarh Administration, the court held that the right to make reproductive choices falls under the personal liberty guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution and includes a women’s entitlement to carry a pregnancy to its full term, to give birth and that these rights form part of women’s right to privacy, dignity and bodily integrity. In Devika Biswas v Union of India, the Supreme Court also recognized that right to reproduction is an important component of ‘right to life’ under Article 21. In other way, this bill restricts surrogacy to married heterosexual couples within strict age range, and also discriminates against members of LGBT Community, older couples and unmarried people who might seek to have children, which goes against the principles of equality provided under Article 14 of the Constitution of India.
The Bill also requires the couples to obtain a ‘certificate of infertility’ from the district medical board, which is a violation of ‘right to privacy’ and has been recognised as a ‘fundamental right’ to be protected under the Constitution of India in the landmark judgment of Jus. KS Puttaswamy (Retd) & Anr v Union of India. As also observed in B.K. Parthasarthi v Govt. of A.P,, the right to make a reproduction is essentially a very personal decision called the ‘right of reproductive autonomy’ and is a facet of ‘right to privacy’ and the intrusion of state into such a decision making process has to be scrutinised by the Courts.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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