Commercial surrogacy has been legal in India since 2002.
India is emerging as a leader in international surrogacy and a sought after destination in surrogacy-related fertility tourism. Indian surrogates have been increasingly popular with fertile couples in industrialized nations because of the relatively low cost. Indian clinics are at the same time becoming more competitive, not just in the pricing, but in the hiring and retention of Indian females as surrogates. Clinics charge patients roughly a third of the price compared with going through the procedure in the UK.
Surrogacy in India is relatively low cost and the legal environment is favorable. In 2008, the Supreme Court of India in the Manji's case (Japanese Baby) has held that commercial surrogacy is permitted in India with a direction to the Legislature to pass an appropriate Law governing Surrogacy in India. At present the Surrogacy Contract between the parties and the Assisted Reproductive Technique (ART) Clinics guidelines are the guiding force. Giving due regard to the apex court directions, the Legislature has enacted ART BILL, 2008 which is still pending and is expected to come in force somewhere in the next coming year. The law commission of India has specifically reviewed the Surrogacy Law keeping in mind that in India that India is an International Surrogacy destination.
Commercial surrogacy is legal in India. But it’s still unregulated in our country as we don’t have legislation controlling surrogacy. And although the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has set 'national guidelines' to regulate surrogacy, these are still simply guidelines. All that this means is that surrogate mothers need to sign a “contract” with the childless couple. There are no stipulations as to what will happen if this “contract’ is violated.
Landmark cases regarding surrogacy
It was in Manji’s case in 2002 that Supreme Court of India held that commercial surrogacy was legal in India.
In Jan Balaz v Union of India, the Gujarat High Court conferred Indian citizenship on two twin babies fathered through compensated surrogacy by a German national in Anand district in Gujarat.
Indian Council for Medical Research’s guidelines for surrogacy
In 2005, The Indian Council for Medical Research gave guidelines to help regulate Assisted Reproductive Technology procedures. The Law Commission of India submitted the 228th report on Assisted Reproductive Technology procedures discussing the importance and need for surrogacy, and also the steps taken to control surrogacy arrangements. The following observations had been made by the Law Commission: • Surrogacy arrangement will continue to be governed by a contract amongst parties, which will contain all the terms requiring consent of surrogate mother to bear the child, agreement of her husband and other family members for the same, medical procedures of artificial insemination, reimbursement of all reasonable expenses for carrying child to full term, willingness to hand over the child born to the commissioning parent(s), etc. But such an arrangement should not be for commercial purposes.
• A surrogacy arrangement should provide for financial support for the surrogate child in the event of death of the commissioning couple or individual before delivery of the child, or divorce between the intended parents and subsequent willingness of none to take delivery of the child.
• A surrogacy contract should necessarily take care of life insurance cover for surrogate mother.
• One of the intended parents should be a donor as well, because the bond of love and affection with a child primarily emanates from biological relationship. Also, the chances of various kinds of child-abuse, which have been noticed in cases of adoptions, will be reduced. In case the intended parent is single, he or she should be a donor to be able to have a surrogate child. Otherwise, adoption is the way to have a child, which is resorted to if biological (natural) parents and adoptive parents are different.
• Legislation itself should recognise a surrogate child to be the legitimate child of the commissioning parent(s) without there being any need for adoption or even declaration of guardian.
• The birth certificate of the surrogate child should contain the name(s) of the commissioning parent(s) only.
• Right to privacy of donor as well as surrogate mother should be protected.
• Sex-selective surrogacy should be prohibited.
• Cases of abortions should be governed by the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971 only.