Karan Johar’s Single Fatherhood May Inspire Others — Till This Bill is Passed http://blog.konkanitube.in/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/1488902964_karan-johars-single-fatherhood-may-inspire-others-till-this-bill-is-passed.png

New Delhi: Eminent filmmaker Karan Johar becoming a father through surrogacy may encourage many single individuals and homosexuals to follow that route, experts say, until Parliament passes a Bill which has been pending for a few months.

ALSO READ | Karan Johar Names His Twins Roohi and Yash

The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill of 2016 not only bans commercial surrogacy, but on its radar are homosexual couples, people who are in live-in-relationships and single individuals who want to have children via surrogacy.

According to the draft law presented by Union Health Minister JP Nadda, only childless Indian heterosexual couples married for a minimum five years and with proven medical problems are eligible for surrogacy.

Amit Karkhanis, a surrogacy law expert and an advocate at the Bombay High Court, told News18 that this trend of ‘renting a womb’ by homosexuals, and single individuals will only rise is the bill is kept pending.

“Johar’s case has actually woken up the sleeping lion of surrogacy. This government is extremely against homosexuals or single individuals becoming parents through surrogacy and this bill is proof of it. There is bound to be a lot of rush for single individuals and homosexuals opting for surrogacy till this bill sees the light of the day,” said Karkhanis.

He also said that Mumbai was witnessing an unprecedented scenario where fertility clinics were outright rejecting singles and homosexuals desiring to become parents.

“In Mumbai especially, 99% of fertility clinics and doctors have stopped entertaining homosexuals or single individuals opting for surrogacy as they fear the ruling government. There is a fear that though they cannot be penalised till the new bill is passed, at least Income Tax raids can be conducted by the officials to keep a check on such practices,” said Karkhanis.

Karkhanis is not alone. Even Dhaval Dave told News18 that the focus of the bill seems misplaced as it targets “commercial surrogacy rather than commercialisation of surrogacy.” Dave is the famed lawyer from Gujarat who was the petitioner’s counsel in the case where Indian citizenship was conferred on two twin babies fathered through surrogacy by a German national.

“This bill in particular does not target ‘commercialisation of surrogacy’ but ‘commercial surrogacy’. There is a difference between the two. There is nothing wrong with commercial surrogacy where a lady of her own will decides to become a surrogate and receives proper compensation for her services. This is certainly not against public policy as is being projected by the government. Commercialisation of surrogacy must be targeted and prevented. This is where surrogates are exploited and this needs regulation, but somehow the government is targeting the ‘commercial’ aspect of it,” said Dave.

Dave also pointed out that once the bill is through “in its present form”, cases like that of Johar and Tushar Kapoor “will certainly be over”.

“So long as the bill is debated and discussed, such cases can go on,” said Dave.

However, Hari G Ramasubhramanian, chief consultant, Indian Surrogacy Law Centre, told News18 that this bill “needs to be tested on the touchstone of the reproductive rights of an individual and only then it can be said whether it is without any fault or not.”

ALSO READ | Abu Azmi Mocks Karan Johar Becoming a Parent, Asks If he has Medical Issues

“There is still a scope to rethink the provisions of the law and make changes to it. What is perplexing is it is not clear what this bill is trying to achieve. Demand for procreation will never die and will only increase with time and there is a supply to cater to it from women who wish to be paid in return. Now, whenever there will be money involved, there is a scope for exploitation and the government must regulate such practices, but banning this concept for willing women and for unmarried couples does not make any sense,” said Ramasubhramanian.

Karkhanis pointed out that this bill was “carefully crafted” and told News18 that government submission reveals that the entire plan to eliminate homosexuals from the bill emanates from Section 377 of the IPC, which criminalises homosexuality.

“Now this entire thing is only possible because homosexuality has been prohibited under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. I have heard the government even mentioning in court at times that those possible amendments may be done to the Act at a later date in case homosexuality is decriminalized,” said Karkhanis.

But Ramasubhramanian also said that the concept that only the rich opt for surrogacy is certainly a “wrong notion”.

“There are also cases where a watchman has taken a loan to get a child via surrogacy,” he said.

First Published: March 7, 2017, 9:19 PM IST