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Assisted Reproduction

Surrogate Or Wife? India Court To Decide

This is a novel argument:

A businessman in the city locked in a dispute with a woman, who he claimed to be the surrogate mother of his child, today said the lady was “hired” for Rs1 lakh. However, according to an FIR filed by the woman, she has claimed the status of wife and declined to hand over the child to the couple.

Police said the custody of the one-year-old child was granted to the woman identified as Rani in the FIR. The child was born last year in a private nursing home in Ghaziabad. In the hospital register, she is identified as wife of Madan Lal. The child’s father said, Rani, in her 30s, was hired by the couple as his wife was infertile. He said they had given Rs1 lakh to the woman.

Police said she refused to give the child’s custody to the couple and went to her house in New Delhi with the boy. Three months back, Lal brought her here and she stayed with the family. But she demanded a separate house to live with him and the child. Yesterday, she had filed a complaint with police in Kavinagar demanding protection of her rights as wife. Police said she claimed that he had married her secretly, but the man was living with his legal wife.

No case is registered so far, police said adding the custody of the child was given to Rani as mother’s care was required for the toddler now.
She is now at her father’s house in New Delhi with the child. Police denied to have solved the matter of surrogation as it is not covered under any law in the country.

The last sentence of this article should give pause to anyone considering cross-border surrogacy.

UPDATE: 2/2/10 @ 9:54 a.m.

I found some more information on this story:

GHAZIABAD: A domestic help and a Ghaziabad-based placement firm owner and his wife are involved in a row over a child who the couple say was borne by the maid as part of an “informal” surrogate motherhood deal which the woman denies, claiming to be the second wife of the businessman.
The dispute has led to the police being called in as the domestic help, Neetu, has walked off with the child even as the placement agency owner Navin Pandit and his wife Nisha said they had paid Rs 20,000 to the maid to have the baby. The child, a boy, is now the centre of the contending claims made by the Pandit couple and Neetu.

The police is investigating the claims to try and establish whether the child was born in wedlock or was the result of a purely financial arrangement between the 36-year-old businessman and Neetu. Given the nature of the case — with Neetu’s word pitted against her employer’s — the police are unlikely to resolve the case conclusively without a forensic investigation. Neetu is now living with her parents at their house in Jehangirpuri in north Delhi and is also five months pregnant. Revealing this, acting Ghaziabad superintendent of police (city) M M Beg said Neetu and Nisha, 35, have submitted reports against each other at the Kavi Nagar police station. Nisha has claimed that Neetu lived with the family for some time. She was paid Rs 10,000 or Rs 20,000 so that “my husband could have a baby by her. She was never married to my husband”, Nisha said in her report.

Neetu’s report says Pandit married her in an Arya Samaj temple. Later, she gave birth to his son. But Pandit, however, sent her home to her father’s house in Delhi and kept the child with him. Pandit and Nisha, residents of Govindpuram Colony, thereafter refused to give the child to her, she claims. Beg pointed out that both bigamy and surrogate motherhood of this nature was not legal and investigations were on. In its acceptable sense, surrogate motherhood involves implanting a fertilized embyro, not a physical relationship as has been suggested in this case. In which case, Pandit may well face a charge.

Neetu has been changing her statements, Beg said, adding, “We cannot rule out that Neetu was paid to be a surrogate mother. And, that someone later persuaded her to use claim of marriage to get more money from Pandit. But, investigations are on.” Police said apparently Neetu and Nisha had a fierce quarrel while approaching the police, as both had multiple scratch marks on their faces. Pandit evaded answering questions but Neetu’s mother Manorama said Pandit and Nisha had “tricked” her daughter to use her as a surrogate mother.

I smell a movie of the week.


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