21 November 2019
New Delhi: With many Rajya Sabha members across party lines suggesting changes in certain provisions of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019, the government on Thursday agreed to refer the draft legislation to a house Select Committee.
The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019, mandates that only a close relative can be a surrogate mother and intending couples should be married for five years.
While taking up the bill, most members of Rajya Sabha supported it, but pointed out certain gaps in the legislation.
The proposed legislation, moved by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan in the Upper House on Tuesday had been passed by the Lok Sabha in the monsoon session. The bill seeks to prevent unethical practices, exploitation of surrogate mothers, abandonment of children born out of surrogacy and intermediaries involved in importing human embryos and gametes.
Participating in the discussion on the bill, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh had on Wednesday expressed reservations over the provision regarding only close relatives being allowed to be a surrogate mother.
"This is mind-boggling that we are going to be passing a Bill which is going to make only a close relative a surrogate mother. This flies in the face of our understanding of Indian families and of Indian society. I am absolutely surprised that a Bill can come in this fashion that only surrogacy will be restricted to a close relative," he had said.
Making a case for sending the bill for scrutiny of the House panel, Ramesh said that he was in support of the bill but not in the current form.
"We will pass the Bill. We need regulation but this is not the Bill that should be passed by Parliament in its full knowledge," he added.
Senior BJP leader Suresh Prabhu had also pointed out the issue while leading the debate on the bill.
"I have got a great regard and respect for him (Minister). We share a very close relationship. However, the 'close relative' has not been defined in the bill. What I am trying to impress upon is that if it is known within a few months of marriage, why should the couple wait for five years? Why cannot have a child early?" Prabhu said.
" This is something which you should really think about, so that they can give more attention to the child and can look after the child better," he added.