A parliamentary panel has said there should be no discrimination against people of Indian origin living abroad seeking to use surrogacy services in India.
There is "no point" in restricting Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) from using surrogacy services, the panel's report, tabled in Parliament recently, said.
While recommending that foreign nationals be kept out of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016, it advocated an appropriate mechanism for a complete background check of NRIs, PIOs and OCIs intending to use the services of surrogates for bearing a child on their behalf.
The Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health said this should be permitted after a "thorough scrutiny" of their documents submitted to the appropriate authority designated for granting permission for surrogacy services in India.
"The Committee recommends that while foreign nationals be kept out of the ambit of the surrogacy bill, Persons of Indian Origin, Overseas Citizens of India and NRIs be permitted to avail of surrogacy services in the country," it said.
The Union Cabinet had given its nod to the introduction of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016, in Parliament, seeking a bar on unmarried couples, single parents, live-in partners and homosexuals from opting for surrogacy.
"Foreigners as well as NRIs and PIOs who hold OCI cards have been barred from opting for surrogacy," External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had told reporters after the approval of the bill by the Union Cabinet last year.
The committee headed by Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav said there were adequate provisions in the Bill for an appropriate authority to scrutinise documents submitted by the intending couple before commissioning surrogacy and to reject an application in case of any violation of rules.
"The committee is of the view that PIOs/OCIs should not be classified along with other foreign nationals" for this purpose, the committee's report said.
The committee was of the opinion that since NRIs, PIOs and OCI cardholders were of Indian origin, there should not be any "prejudice and discrimination" against them on the matter.
"The government has been extending several concessions to PIOs/OCIs to boost the ties of the Indian diaspora with the country of their origin," it said.
The committee also recommended that the intending couple provide a specific "declaration" or a No-Objection Certificate that the child born of a surrogate would get the same citizenship rights as possessed by the intending couple.
The recommendations of such panels are not binding on the government. However, the government, in most cases, accepts some proposals, as reports of parliamentary committees are considered the "will of Parliament".
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