Union ministers Prakash Javadekar and Smriti Irani at a press conference after a Cabinet meeting, in New Delhi on Wednesday. (Express photo by Prem Nath Pandey)
THE GOVERNMENT on Wednesday approved the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020, which allows a “willing” woman to be a surrogate mother and proposes that widows and divorced women can also benefit from its provisions, besides infertile Indian couples.
The Cabinet under Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the decision as the government accepted and incorporated all the recommendations of a Rajya Sabha Select Committee in the Bill.
The Bill is aimed at banning commercial surrogacy and allowing altruistic surrogacy, Union minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters.
Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani said the Bill proposes that only Indian couples, with both partners being of Indian origin, can opt for surrogacy in the country.
She said that Prime Minister Modi has led from the front with a liberal view on the issues of reproductive rights of women, be it medical termination of pregnancy, the Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill or the surrogacy Bill.
The amended Bill is a reformed version of the draft legislation, which was passed by the Lok Sabha in August 2019, but its provisions, including that only a close relative of a couple can be a surrogate mother, had invited criticism leading the government to send the Bill to the Select Committee, headed by BJP MP Bhupendra Yadav.
The amended Bill is likely to be tabled in the second half of the Budget Session beginning next month.
The Bill also proposes to regulate surrogacy by establishing National Surrogacy Board at the central level and State Surrogacy Board and appropriate authorities in states and Union Territories respectively.
The proposed insurance cover for surrogate mother has now been increased to 36 months from 16 months provided in the earlier version.