4 Mar : The Department of Laws, Panjab University, Chandigarh in association with Malhotra & Malhotra Associates, International Attorneys organized a Panel Discussion on “Surrogacy : Bane or Boon”. Prof. P.S. Jaswal, Chairman, Department of Laws introduced the theme of the panel discussion and explained that mythologically speaking surrogate motherhood is well known in India since Vedic times. However, today primordial urge to have a biological child of one’s own flesh and blood has generated the “reproductive tourism industry” which is estimated at Rs. 25,000 crores. Prof. Jaswal posed a question that are we really prepared for the same? The main theme of the panel discussion centered around the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulations) Bill and Rules 2008. The Panel was chaired by Hon’ble Dr. Justice A.R. Lakshmanan, Chairman, Law Commission of India who in his keynote address explained the need to have a law to regulate the ever increasing reproductive tourism industry in India. He also explained the role of new draft rules which, if enacted by the Parliament, will become the law. Prof. R.C. Sobti, Vice-Chancellor explained the biological aspect of the surrogate motherhood and the role of biotechnology in this regard. Hon’ble Mr. Justice T.S. Thakur, Chief Justice of Punjab & Haryana High Court laid emphasise on regulation of surrogate motherhood through instrumentality of law and he also emphasized on the problem which the Indian society may face if no proper law is enacted in this regard.
Hon’ble Mr. Justice K. Kannan explained the judicial perspective of surrogacy and highlighted the role which the judiciary can play in protecting the interest of the child born out of the surrogacy and the biological parents. Prof. Varinder Kumar explained the sociological view point of surrogacy and its effect. Prof. Vanita Suri from PGI explained the medical view point of the surrogacy and highlighted the problems of those women who lend their womb for surrogacy. She also explained the problem which might be faced by surrogate mothers after the delivery of the child. The panel also included Dr. Gabriele Annis, Head of the Consular and the Visa Section of the Embassy of Italy who narrated that there is a sizeable population of India which settled in Italy and the problems they may face in child born out of the surrogacy because surrogacy has not yet been legalized in Italy.
Mr. Ranjit Malhotra discussed the immigration issued in regard to child born out of surrogacy. Mr. Anil Malhotra coordinated the question-answer session between the panelists and the audience and explained that Assisted Reproductive Technology was in vogue in India since 1978 and today an estimated of 2 lacs clinics across the country offer artificial insemination, IVF and surrogacy. He explained how the recent decision of the Supreme Court in Baby Manji Yamada case of 2008 has initiated a new debate in the legal circle regarding the surrogacy and its effects. He shared his views with regard to legal issues and problems in surrogacy, their remedies available now, the position under the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill 2008 and the anomalies in the said Bill. The audience showed keen interest by asking questions to the panelists on the social and legal aspects of the surrogacy. If the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill and Rules 2008 becomes the law then India will be the first country in the world to legalize surrogate motherhood.