HC confers Indian citizenship on twins fathered through surrogacy

In a landmark judgment, the Gujarat High Court on Wednesday conferred Indian citizenship on two twin babies fathered through surrogacy by a German national in Anand district. The court directed the authorities to give them Indian passports.

Also, the court emphasised the need for 'a comprehensive legislation' dealing with all the issues and situations being created by the latest reproductive science and technology.

The two boys — Balaz Nikolas and Balaz Leonard, whose father is a German national, Jan Balaz — were conceived by an Indian surrogate mother, Marthaben Immanuel Khristi, in Anand in January 2008. An unidentified woman from India had donated the ova, which were fertilised with the sperm of Jan Balaz. The fertilised embryo was implanted at an assisted reproduction clinic in Anand.

Balaz had opted for the latest reproductive scientific technology after realising that his wife — Susanne Anna Lohle — was biologically unable to conceive. Balaz and his wife had also entered into a surrogacy agreement with Khristi.

After the birth of the two boys, they were issued Indian passports by the authorities. But after learning about Balaz's foreign nationality and the surrogacy issue, they ordered him to surrender the passports. Aggrieved by the decision, Balaz moved the HC.

The Regional Passport Officer at Ahmedabad had told the court that under the provisions of the Indian Citizenship Act, the boys couldn't be conferred with Indian citizenship since they were born out of surrogacy. However, the petitioner's lawyer — Dhaval Dave — strongly contended that the boys are born in India through surrogacy. And since they have been born to a surrogate mother who herself is an Indian national, they are entitled to Indian citizenship.

Announcing the verdict, the division bench comprising Chief Justice K S Radhakrishnan and Justice A S Dave observed, "…lot of legal, moral and ethical issues arise for our consideration in this case, which have no precedents in this country."

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