NEW DELHI: The Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that German government has granted visa to the twins of the German couple born to the surrogate Indian mother. The apex court, however, hoped that the Parliament would make appropriate legislation to clarify the country’s legal position on the citizenship issue of those born from the womb of an Indian mother, but commissioned by the foreign parents. Solicitor general Gopal Subramanium, on behalf of the Centre, informed a vacation bench comprising Justices G S Singhvi and C K Prasad that the German government has granted visa to the twins born to a surrogate Indian mother. The Centre has completed all the formalities to ensure that the couple could return to their country with the babies, said Mr Subramanium. “We can only wish them good luck,” the court remarked while complementing the solicitor general for facilitating visas for the twins. The court also hoped that Indian Parliament would make appropriate legislation to clarify the country’s legal position vis-a-vis the citizenship rights of a surrogate child born to an Indian woman but commissioned by foreign parents. To this, the solicitor general said he had already written to the Union government for making appropriate legislation to avoid tricky situations such as the present one. The German couple — John Balaz and his wife — had sought Indian citizenship for the children born in February 2008 through surrogate mother Martha Immanual Khristy on the plea that the twins otherwise would not be allowed entry into Germany which does not recognise surrogacy.
Earlier, the apex court had directed the Central Adoption Resource Agency to consider as a one-time measure the plea of the couple for adoption of the twins on humanitarian grounds. The court had passed the direction after the couple said that they were willing to go for an inter-country adoption as surrogacy is a punishable offence in their country. It had passed the direction after the counsel for the Union government told the bench that under the existing rules, the German couple cannot be granted adoption rights as such a privilege is available only if the children are abandoned by the biological parents.
In the present case, the government said the children were born through a surrogate mother and there was no provision under the law for inter-country adoption for the children. It, however, had offered to examine the plea for adoption of the German couple as a special case provided it was not treated as a precedent. The court, in its earlier direction, had asked the government to examine the offer of the German couple to go for adoption of the kids as surrogacy is a punishable offence in Germany which was not willing to grant the surrogate children any citizenship or visa.
The Centre had rejected the couple’s plea for grant of citizenship to the children on the ground that the statute does not provide citizenship rights to children born of a surrogate woman.The couple had claimed that once the twins are accorded Indian citizenship they would be entitled to passports, thus facilitating their entry into Germany. After the passport authorities turned down their plea, the couple had moved the Gujarat high court. The high court had on November 11 directed the Centre to grant citizenship by taking the view that since the twins were born to a surrogate Indian mother they were entitled to the country’s citizenship. Aggrieved, the Centre filed an appeal in the apex court. The Centre had taken the stand that under the Citizenship Act, 1955, since the commissioning parents were a German couple, the two children cannot be treated as Indian citizens and hence there was no question of granting them passports.