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Supreme Court seeks Centre’s response on plea to allow surrogacy for unmarried women

The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought Central government’s response to a plea to allow single, unmarried women to avail the option of having children through surrogacy. A Bench comprising Justice BV Nagarathna and Justice Ujjal Bhuyan had taken up the matter today.

Earlier, the matter was initially dismissive of the petitioner’s contentions after it was revealed that she had frozen her eggs, Later, the Court eventually decided to examine the issue and sought Centre’s response. 

Supreme Court lawyer Neeha Nagpal has filed the petition. She stated that the women should be allowed to have a child without being married. Her petition mentioned that she wants to secure her right of availing surrogacy and experience motherhood on her terms without State’s interference in her private life. The plea added that the petitioner has a right to reproduction and motherhood even without entering a marriage. 

The petitioner further noted that the ban on surrogacy for unmarried women violates the petitioner’s right to reproduction, her right to start a family, her right to meaningful family life and her right to privacy. 

The plea stated that the prohibition of any monetary compensation or consideration to the surrogate mother effectively makes it impossible for the petitioner to find a surrogate mother. The law instead of seeking to regulate surrogacy in effect bans it by imposing the requirement of altruistic surrogacy, the plea added.  

Senior Advocate Saurabh Kirpal who appeared for the petitioner argued that there were massive gaps in the current Surrogacy Rules. He noted that the ban on single women from opting for surrogacy is hit by Article 14, right to equality and Article 21, right to life. 

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati noted that the issue of unmarried women availing of surrogacy is currently before the apex court in a larger batch of pleas. Aishwarya Bhati added that single, unmarried women are still allowed to have children by means of Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART).

Responding to this, Justice Nagarathna expressed that they are confused and questioned how many ART procedures have happened in India for unmarried women. He noted that they have to see the pulse of Indian society also. 

Meanwhile, Advocate Saurabh Kirpal underlined that the fabric of the Constitution has to be maintained and that the matter needs to be heard. He also clarified that they are not pressing for an interim stay. 

The Supreme Court then proceeded to issue the notice in the matter. The petition was lodged through advocate Malak Manish Bhatt. 

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