Dam Safety Bill, 2018

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Why this Bill is needed?

  • There are over 5200 large dams and about 450 dams are under construction in India.
  • Moreover, there are thousands of small and medium dams.
  • India holds third rank after USA and China in terms of larger number of dams.
  • Due to lack of legal and institutional architecture for dam safety in the country, dam safety has been issue of concern.
  • Unsafe dams are hazard and dam break may cause disasters, leading to huge loss of life and property.

Aim of Dam Safety Bill:

  • The bill aims to help all States and Union Territories to adopt uniform dam safety procedures which will ensure safety of dams and safeguard benefits from such dams.
  • This will also help in safeguarding human life, livestock and property.

Salient features of Bill:

  • The bill address all issues concerning dam safety including regular inspection of dams, comprehensive dam safety review, emergency action plan, adequate repair and maintenance funds for dam safety, instrumentation and safety manuals.
  • It lays onus of dam safety on dam owner and provides for penal provisions for commission and omission of certain acts.
  • The Bill provides for proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in the country to ensure their safe functioning.
  • It mandates constitution of National Committee on Dam Safety (NCDS) which will evolve dam safety policies and recommend necessary regulations as may be required for the purpose.
  • The Bill also provides for establishment of National Dam Safety Authority (NDSA) as regulatory body which shall discharge functions to implement policy, standards and guidelines for dam safety in the country.
  • It also provides for constitution of State Committee on Dam Safety (SCDS) by State Government.
  • National Dam Safety Authority (NDSA)
    • NDSA will maintain liaison with State Dam Safety Organisations (SDSOs) and owners of dams for standardisation of dam safety related data and practices.
    • It will provide technical and managerial assistance to States and SDSOs.
    • It will maintain national level data-base of all dams in the country and records of major dam failures.
    • NDSA will examine cause of any major dam failure.
    • It will publish and update standard guidelines and check-lists for routine inspection and detailed investigations of dams.
    • It will also accord accreditations or recognition to organisations which can be entrusted with works of investigation, design or construction of new dams.
    • It will also look into unresolved points of issue between SDSOs of two states or between SDSO of State and owner of dam in that State, for proper solution.
    • NDSA in certain cases, such as dams of one state falling under territory of another State will also perform role of SDSO to eliminate potential causes for inter-state conflicts.
  • State Committee on Dam Safety (SCDS)
    • SCDS will ensure proper inspection, surveillance, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in that State and ensure their safe functioning.
    • It will ensures that every State establishes SDSO, which will be manned by officers from field dam safety preferably from areas of dam-designs, hydrology, hydro-mechanical engineering, instrumentation, geo-technical investigation and dam-rehabilitation.

ias4sure.com - Dam Safety Bill, 2018

Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018

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Lok Sabha has passed Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018 to provide death penalty to those convicted of raping girls below the age of 12 years. The Bill amends:
  • Indian Penal Code (IPC),
  • Criminal Procedure Code,
  • Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and
  • Indian Evidence Act.
 
Key Provisions of Ordinance
  • It provides for stringent punishment of jail term of minimum 20 years or life imprisonment or death for rape of girl less than 12 years.
  • It provides punishment with imprisonment for rest of life or death sentence in case of gang rape of girl below 12 years.
  • It increases minimum punishment from 10 years to 20 years for crime of rape of girl under 16 years, which can be extended to imprisonment for rest of life.
  • It increases minimum punishment for rape of women from rigorous imprisonment of 7 years to 10 years, which can be extended to life imprisonment.
  • It provides for speedy investigation and trial, which must be completed in two months.
  • It proposes 6 months’ time limit for disposal of appeals in rape cases.
  • It provides dedicated manpower for investigation of rape cases in time bound manner.
  • It provides no provision for anticipatory bail for person accused of rape or gang rape of girl under 16 years.
  • It has also been provided that court has to give notice of 15 days to Public Prosecutor and representative of victim before deciding bail applications in case of rape of a girl under 16 years of age.
  • It has provision for maintaining national database and profile of sexual offenders by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
  • This data will be regularly shared with States/UTs for monitoring, tracking and investigation including verification of antecedents by police.

 

ias4sure.com - Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance

Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018

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Context:
  • Lok Sabha has passed the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018.
  • Human Trafficking is third largest organized crime violating basic human rights.
  • At present there is no specific law to deal with this crime.
  • It will make India leader among South Asian countries to combat trafficking
  • The Bill provides for the prevention, rescue, and rehabilitation of trafficked persons and seeks to establish National Anti-Trafficking Bureau to investigate trafficking cases.  
  • It also provides for the setting up of Anti-Trafficking Units (ATUs) at district level which will deal with the investigation, prevention, rescue, and protection of victims and witnesses.

 

ias4sure.com - Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018

Features of Bill

  • It takes into consideration aggravated forms of trafficking. It includes trafficking for purpose of forced labour, begging, trafficking of a woman or child for the purpose of marriage or under the pretext of marriage or after marriage, trafficking by administering chemical substance or hormones on a person for the purpose of early sexual maturity etc
  • It prescribes punishment for promoting and facilitating trafficking of person. It includes producing, printing, issuing or distributing unissued, tampered or fake certificates, registration or stickers as proof of compliance with Government requirements, or commits fraud for procuring or facilitating acquisition of clearances and necessary documents from Government agencies.
  • It deals with confidentiality of victims and witnesses and complainants by not disclosing their identity. It will be maintained by recording their statement through video conferencing (it will help trans-border and inter-State crimes).
  • It has provision for time bound trial and repatriation of the victims. It will be within a period of 1 year from taking into cognizance. It provides immediate protection of rescued victims and their rehabilitation. The victims will be entitled to interim relief immediately within 30 days to address their physical, mental trauma etc. and further appropriate relief within 60 days from the date of filing of charge sheet.
  • It creates Rehabilitation Fund for the first time. It will be used for physical, psychological and social well-being of victim including education, skill development, health care and psychological support, legal aid, safe accommodation etc.  It mandates designation of courts in each district for the speedy trial of the cases.
  • It creates dedicated institutional mechanisms at District, State and Central level. They will be responsible for prevention, protection, investigation and rehabilitation work related to trafficking. The tasks of Anti-Trafficking Bureau at the national level will be performed by National Investigation Agency (NIA).
  • The punishment prescribed under it ranges from rigorous minimum 10 years to life and fine not less than Rs. 1 lakh. In order to break the organized nexus, both at national and international level, it mandates for attachment & forfeiture of property and also proceeds for crime.
  • It comprehensively addresses transnational nature of the crime. It entrusts National Anti-Trafficking Bureau (NATB) to perform functions of international coordination with authorities in foreign countries and international organizations.
  • State Anti-Trafficking Officers: The Bill mandates state government to appoint State Nodal Officer. The officer will be responsible for follow up action as per provisions of Bill and as per instructions of State Anti-Trafficking Committee and provide  relief and rehabilitation services. It also mandates state government to appoint Police Nodal Officer at state and district levels. The state government will also designate Anti-Trafficking Police Officers for each district to deal with all matters related to trafficking in the district.
  • Anti-Trafficking Units: The Bill provides setting up of Anti-Trafficking Units (ATUs) at district level. They will deal with prevention, rescue and protection of victims and witnesses and for investigation and prosecution of trafficking offences. In districts where ATU is not functional, this responsibility will be taken up by local police station.
  • Anti-Trafficking Relief and Rehabilitation Committee: The Bill provides for establishment of these committees (ATCs) at all three levels viz. national, state, and district levels. These committees will be responsible for providing compensation, repatriation and re-integration of victims in society, among others.
  • Search and rescue: The Bill empowers Anti-Trafficking Police Officer or ATU to rescue persons, if they are in imminent danger. They will be produced before Child Welfare Committee or Magistrate for medical examination. The district ATC will provide relief and rehabilitation services to rescued persons.
  • Penalties: The Bill specifies penalties for various offences including for promoting trafficking, trafficking of persons, disclosing identity of victim and aggravated trafficking such as trafficking for bonded labour and begging. For trafficking it prescribes rigorous imprisonment of 10 years up to life imprisonment, along with minimum fine of Rs. 1 lakh.  For publishing of any material it prescribes imprisonment between 5 to 10 years, and fine between Rs 50,000 to Rs.1 lakh.

 

Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment) Bill, 2017

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Context:

  • Lok Sabha has passed The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment) Bill, 2017 to allow government to take up infrastructure projects within prohibited areas around protected monuments.
  • The Bill amends the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act, 1958.

 

Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958

  • The AMASR Act provides for preservation of ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance.
  • It provides for the regulation of archaeological excavations and for protection of sculptures, carvings and other like objects.
  • It was passed in 1958.
  • The Archaeological Survey of India functions under the provisions of this act.
  • The Act prohibits construction in ‘prohibited area’, an area of 100 meters around protected monument.
  • It does not permit construction in such prohibited areas even if it is for public purposes, except under certain conditions.
  • The central government can extend the prohibited area beyond 100 meters.
  • The iconic monuments in India, Taj Mahal, Ajanta Caves, The Great Stupa at Sanchi and the Sun Temple of Konark, among others are designated as “ancient monuments of national importance” and protected under the AMASR Act.
  • The Archaeological Survey of India is the custodian of these monuments.

 

Key Features of Bill

  • The Bill amends provision related to construction in ‘prohibited areas’ in the parent bill to permit construction of public works in ‘prohibited areas’ for public purposes.
  • It introduces definition for ‘public works’, which includes construction of any infrastructure that is financed and carried out by central government for public purposes.
  • The Bill empowers central government to allow public works based on recommendation of National Monuments Authority (NMA) on application forwarded by relevant central government department, that seeks to carry out construction for public purposes in a prohibited area.
  • The Bill empowers NMA to consider an impact assessment of proposed public works in prohibited area, including its archaeological impact, visual impact and heritage impact.
  • NMA will make a recommendation, for construction of public works to the central government, only if it is satisfied that there is no reasonable possibility of moving the construction outside the prohibited area.

 

Analysis

  • Proposed Amendment to the act would remove the security net that exists around our nationally protected monuments.
  • Our protected monuments, from the Taj Mahal to the monuments of Mamallapuram, have a designated prohibited area — at least a 100-m radius — to protect them, where no new construction is allowed.
  • It is similar to the zoning around tiger reserves where the core area is set apart for the animals to live in, and where human disturbance is not permitted.

 

Advantages of amendments

  • Prohibition of new construction within prohibited area is adversely impacting various public works and developmental projects of the Central Government.
  • It will pave way for certain constructions limited strictly to public works and projects essential to public within the prohibited area and benefit the public at large.

 

Comments of Historians and archaeologists

  • Historians and archaeologists have expressed concern over amendments proposed to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (1958).
  • The pressures of urban development have meant that more and more historical monuments are coming under threat due to development activities around them.
  • Rapid urbanization also threatened many sites of historical importance, for example megalithic sites (Iron Age burials) en route Chengalpattu from Chennai.
  • Even a Neolithic site near the Murugan temple in a hillock in Kundrathur is now missing due to urban settlements springing up there.
  • In 2013, after a CAG report raised an alarm that 92 historical monuments had gone missing due to development activities around them, the ASI started a ground survey to verify them, and found that 21 had indeed become untraceable.
  • Citing a Cabinet note, Congress leader and Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor informed Parliament recently that plans were afoot to construct a railway line next to Rani ki Vaw, an ancient step well in Patan, Gujarat, which had been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014.
  • Allowing an exception for “public works” will open a Pandora’s Box, and it will be all but impossible for the National Monuments Authority or the Archaeological Survey of India to ensure that such construction do not pose a threat to a monument.
  • Public works are more often than not very large infrastructure projects. Allowing these in the immediate vicinity of a protected monument will defeat the very purpose of the AMASR Act and will be a violation of Article 49 of the Constitution.

 

ias4sure.com - Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment) Bill, 2017

 

 

Space Activities Bill, 2017

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Context:

  • Space Activities Bill, 2017
  • The Space Activities Bill, 2017 is aimed at regulating space activities to ensure peaceful exploration and use of outer space. 

In News:

  • The draft of the country’s first Space Law, stipulates licences for all space-related players and activities.
  • The draft also sets out penalties of ₹1 crore and above and jail terms for violations.
  • The proposed bill, also seeks to keep the government out of any liability arising out of harm that these commercial activities may cause — to people, environment, other countries or outer space.
  • The draft Bill defines objects, people and geography that will come under the future law.
  • The Centre will keep a registry of all space objects.

New body proposed

  • All persons or entities engaged in space will now need a licence
  • The government will form a new authorised body for the purpose of issuing license.
  • So far, the national space agency Indian Space Research Organisation’s major works have related to satellites, launchers and applications. These were governed by the Satellite Communication Policy, 2000; the Remote Sensing Data Policy, 2011; and international treaty obligations on outer space activities as mandated by the UN Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space or UNCOPUOS.

Why such a law is needed?

  • Increasing applications of Space-based solutions have meant an increased participation of private sector industry and startups.
  • Commercial opportunities in space activities and services, nationally and internationally, demand a higher order of participation by private sector agencies. This situation demands a necessary legal environment for orderly performance and growth of space sector.

The important features of the bill are:

  • The bill provides for a non-transferable licence to be provided by the Central Government to any person carrying out commercial space activity.
  • The bill empowers the Central Government to formulate the appropriate mechanism for licencing, eligibility criteria, and fees for the licence.
  • The Central Government would be required to maintain a register of all space objects (any object launched or intended to be launched around the earth) and develop space activity plans for the country.
  • The Central Government would ensure safety requirements and supervise the conduct of every space activity of India and investigate any incident or accident in connection with the operation of space activity.
  • The Central Government would share details about the pricing of products created by space activity and technology with any person or any agency in a prescribed manner.
  • The bill provides for penal provisions if any person undertakes any commercial space activity without authorisation they shall be punished with imprisonment up to 3 years or fined more than Rs 1 crore or both.
  • The bill requires licensed entities to carry out operations in a manner that prevents the contamination of outer space or damage to the earth’s environment.

Shortfalls of the Bill

The criticisms against the bill are:

  • The bill falls short in addressing the space-based activities separately.
  • The bill tries to cover large swaths of the space value chain in one go. This would make the regulatory environment clumsy.
  • The definition of space activity is ambiguous. The current definition puts every space object under its ambit; even hardware that carries GPS receivers could require a license.
  • The bill will adversely affect the navigation services provided by companies such as Google Maps, Ola and Uber.

The bill had received responses from the public, Indian aerospace industry, related start-ups, space law experts, scholars, satcom companies and scientists. The government is in the process to address the concerns expressed by the stakeholders.

Source:

http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/govt-unveils-draft-of-law-to-regulate-space-sector/article20629386.ece

Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016

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The Lok Sabha has passed the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, which seeks to empower the transgender community in the country by providing them a separate identity.

Aims

  • To protect transgenders from discrimination
  • To evolve a holistic mechanism for the social, economic and educational empowerment of marginalized transgenders community

What will it do?

  • The Bill will benefit a large number of transgender persons, mitigate the stigma, discrimination and abuse against them and also bring them into the mainstream of society.
  • It will lead to greater inclusiveness and will make the transgender persons productive members of the society.
  • The Bill will make all the stakeholders responsive and accountable for upholding the principles underlying the Bill.
  • It will bring greater accountability on the part of the Union Government and Slate Governments/UT administrations for issues concerning Transgender persons.

Why all this is necessary?

  • Transgender community is among one of the most marginalized communities in the country because they don’t fit into the stereotypical categories of gender of ‘men’ or ‘women’.
  • They face problems ranging from social exclusion, ostracism and discrimination, as well as verbal, physical and sexual abuse.
  • They don’t have access to education and employment opportunities, ending up into organised groups, forced begging or demanding money.

Features of Bill:

  • The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 Bill defines a transgender person as one who is partly female or male; or a combination of female and male; or neither female nor male. Additionally, the bill states that the person’s gender must not match the assigned gender at birth.
  • Every transgender person in the country must obtain an identity certificate which will be used as the proof of recognition of identity as a transgender person and to avail all the rights under the Bill.
  • The identity certificate would be granted by the District Magistrate on the recommendation of a Screening Committee.
  • The screening committee for recommending the certificate would comprise a medical officer, a psychologist or psychiatrist, a district welfare officer, a government official, and a transgender person.
  • The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 prohibits discriminating with transgender people in education, employment, healthcare and other areas
  • The Bill directs the central and state governments for providing welfare schemes to the Transgender community in these areas.
  • The Bill also provides for the punishment of up to two years’ imprisonment and a fine for offences like compelling a transgender person to beg, denial of access to a public place, physical and sexual abuse, etc.

Journey of the bill and Analysis:

  • The transgender community saw the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in NALSA v. Union of India as a victory, as it recognised that transgender persons have fundamental rights.
  • The judgment was followed by a private member’s Bill, the Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014, which was unanimously passed in the Rajya Sabha.
  • Instead of introducing it in the Lok Sabha, the Ministry uploaded its own Bill, the Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2015, on its website in December for public comments.
  • The 2015 Bill, which was largely based on the 2014 Bill, did away with the national and State commissions for transgender persons and transgender rights courts.
  • The Bill was fairly progressive since it granted a transgender person the right to be identified as a ‘man’, ’woman’ or ‘transgender’.
  • However, the 2016 Bill, that was finally introduced in the Lok Sabha, came as a shock.
  • A highly diluted version, it also pathologised transgender persons by defining them as “partly female or male; or a combination of female and male; or neither female nor male”.
  • Met with backlash, the Ministry set up an expert standing committee on social justice and empowerment to examine the Bill.
  • The standing committee invited public comments and thereafter held multiple rounds of consultations.
  • Its report criticised the 2016 Bill for its stark deficiencies and recommended re-drafting the definition of a ‘transgender person’ to make it inclusive and accurate; providing for the definition of discrimination and setting up a grievance redress mechanism to address cases of discrimination; and granting reservations to transgender persons.
  • However, its substance lay in its insistence that the law must grant equal civil rights to transgender persons (marriage, divorce and adoption), thus opening the door for the legal system to take steps to undo its oppressive heteronormative (the presumption that heterosexuality is the norm) and cisgendered (the presumption that people’s gender identity is aligned with their anatomical sex) foundation.
  • The Ministry’s decision to re-introduce the 2016 Bill disregards the pre-legislative consultative policy which requires Ministries to grant a minimum of 30 days for public comments and to place a summary of feedback/comments received from the public/other stakeholders on their website.

Source:

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/against-gender-rights/article21153522.ece

HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2017

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The Act safeguards rights of people living with HIV and affected by HIV. It also addresses HIV-related discrimination, strengthen existing programme by bringing in legal accountability and establish formal mechanisms for inquiring into complaints and redressing grievances.

 

Facts:

  • There are approximately 21 lakh persons estimated to be living with HIV in India. 
  • The prevalence of HIV is decreasing over the last decade but percentage of PLHIV receiving Anti-Retroviral therapy (ART) treatment are merely 25.82% against global percentage of 41%
  • It is the first national HIV law in South Asia

 

Key Features of Act

  • Prevent and control the spread of HIV and AIDS.
  • It prohibits discrimination against persons with HIV and AIDS.
  • It lists various grounds on which discrimination against HIV positive persons and those living with them is prohibited.
  • These discrimination grounds include denial, termination, discontinuation or unfair treatment with regard to
    1. employment
    2. educational establishments
    3. health care services,
    4. standing for public or private office,
    5. residing or renting property and
    6. provision of insurance.
  • It also prohibits requirement for HIV testing as pre-requisite for obtaining employment or accessing health care or education.
  • It mentions that every HIV infected or affected person below age of 18 years has right to reside in shared household and enjoy facilities of household.
  • No person will be compelled to disclose his HIV status except with his informed consent, and if required by a court order
  • Establishments keeping records of information of PLHIV must adopt data protection measures.
  • Obligations on establishments to safeguard rights of persons living with HIV and create mechanisms for redressing complaints.
  • Prohibits any individual from publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons and PLHIV.
  • It mentions that person between 12 to 18 years of age having sufficient maturity in understanding and managing affairs of his HIV or AIDS affected family will be competent to act as guardian of another sibling below 18 years of age.

 

Importance of Act

The Act would provide essential support to National AIDS Control Programme in arresting new spread of HIV infections and thereby achieving the target of “Ending the epidemic by 2030” to meet goal Sustainable Development Goals

 

What is missing in the Act?

  • The Act brings a rights-based approach to AIDS treatment, making it imperative for both the central and state governments to provide treatment “as far as possible”.
  • Though the Act lays down that treatment is the right of the patient, it stops short of making it a legal right — and therefore, a patient who is denied ART treatment cannot ordinarily drag any government to court.
  • Provisions only protect infected individuals from prejudiced behaviour and attitudes. Communities that are vulnerable to infection, individuals who are yet to be tested and kin of those infected are still subjected to stigma and biased perspectives.
  • The need is to adopt a holistic approach to successfully combat discrimination against the infected and the vulnerable, and create safe spaces for them.

 

Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill – Surrogacy

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Lok Sabha has passed Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2016 to protect surrogacy in the country. The bill has banned commercial surrogacy and allows only altruistic surrogacy. The bill protects the rights of the surrogate mother and the child born

from surrogacy and promotes ethical surrogacy. Surrogacy is defined as an agreement between a couple who cannot conceive and a surrogate mother to carry their child.

 

Salient Features of Bill

  • Regulate practices in ethical surrogacy in the country and prohibits commercial surrogacy including sale and purchase of human embryo and gametes.
  • Calls for establishment National Surrogacy Board (NSB) at the central level and State Surrogacy Boards (SSB) and Appropriate Authorities in States/Union Territories.
  • Allows ethical surrogacy for all infertile Indian married couple in the country.
  • The bill is providing surrogacy to only Indian citizens. Thus, Foreigners, NRI and PIOs are not allowed.
  • Protects rights of surrogate mother and children born out of surrogacy.
  • The law will apply to whole of India, except the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • All Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) clinics will be registered.
  • The bill states that the surrogate child will have equal rights like any other biological or adopted child over property.
  • The bill provides that women can only surrogate once in her lifetime and her age should be in between 25 to 35 years.
  • The surrogate mother, who should be married and have borne a healthy child, needs to be a close relative of the couple.
  • The couple who intend for surrogacy should be aged between 23 to 50 years and married for at least 5 years.
  • A woman will be allowed to become a surrogate mother only for altruistic purpose and under no circumstances money shall be paid to her, except for medical expenses. Also, only ‘close relatives’ can turn candidates for surrogacy, according to the proposal.
  • Homosexuals and Single parents are also not allowed for surrogacy .
  • Also, couples having a child already (biological or adopted) can’t approach a surrogate mother.
  • Further, the bill has also a provision for jail term upto 10 years, and a fine of Rs 10 lakhs for violations, such as abandoning the child and opting for commercial surrogacy.

Major benefits

  • Regulates the surrogacy services in the country.
  • Ban unethical commercial surrogacy and also sale and purchase of human embryo and gametes.
  • Allows ethical surrogacy to needy infertile couples on fulfilment of certain conditions.
  • Control unethical practices in surrogacy, prevent commercialization of surrogacy.
  • Prohibit potential exploitation of surrogate mothers and children born through surrogacy.

Background

  • India has emerged as a surrogacy hub for couples from different countries. However there have been reported incidents concerning unethical practices of surrogacy across country.
  • Incidents such as exploitation of surrogate mothers, abandonment of children born out of surrogacy and rackets of intermediaries importing human gametes and embryos were also reported.
  • The 228th report of the Law Commission of India (LCI) also had recommended for banning commercial surrogacy by enacting a suitable legislation. However, it had allowed ethical altruistic surrogacy to the needy Indian citizens.

Facts:

  • Surrogacy in India is estimated to be a $2.3 billion industry but surrogate mothers are paid less than a tenth of what they get in US.

Why increase in India?

  • Cutting edge technology
  • Trained staff
  • Availability of rented wombs
  • Competitive pricing
  • India hub of medical tourism
  • Poverty, illiteracy and the lack of power that women have over their own bodies

Who will be barred as per the new bill?

  • Couples already having one child.
  • Foreigners.
  • Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) card holders.
  • Live-in-Partners.
  • Single people.
  • Homosexuals.
  • Widows.

Needed:

  • Transparency
  • Ethical guidelines
  • Regulated environment
  • Enhanced clinical practice

Government’s stand:

  • Will not allow commercial surrogacy that involves exchange of money for anything apart from paying for medical expenses for the mother and the child –> Thus only altruistic surrogacy
  • Prohibit and penalize commercial surrogacy services so as to protect the dignity of womanhood and to prevent trafficking in human beings and sale of surrogate child
  • Only needy infertile Indian couples would be able to opt for surrogacy of altruistic kind
  • Exclusion of LGBT, Single men or women, couples in live-in relation, as well as married couple who are proven to be fertile
  • Governments stand is based on the ethical standard that a child should not be a product of transaction and that motherhood should not be commodified
  • Insistence on surrogacy and not adoption is seen from the gender-rights perspective, as propagating the patriarchal bloodline

Why commercial surrogacy should not be allowed?

It allows anyone with the money to decide to have a child, order one and have it delivered. In the absence of regularisation, he or she could even disown ‘the product’ once it was ready

How such ban proved disastrous in Thailand?

Thailand, a popular destination for fertility tourism, suddenly clamped a ban on commercial surrogacy earlier this year, after a couple of disasters exposed the dark side of this industry. However, the result was chaos. A number of surrogates in various stages of pregnancy were left in limbo. Intending parents did not know how to collect their babies. Consequently, the surrogacy industry got pushed underground.

Recommendation of a Parliamentary Standing Committee:

  • More liberal norms that will allow live-in couples, divorced women, and widows to choose surrogates is the need of the hour
  • It has recommended that couples should be allowed to choose surrogates from both within and outside the family
  • The Panel also favoured the decision to debar foreigners from availing of surrogacy services in India
  • Committee: The committee is a 31 member Parliamentary Committee on Health and Family Welfare
  • Cabinet has approved some of these suggestions.

Criticism of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 by the panel

  • It criticized the exclusion of live-in partners from the ambit of the legislation
  • According to the panel, the bill talks about compensation rather than altruism as the guiding principle of surrogacy, the panel finds this anti-women

Surrogacy in India has flourished into a ‘Commercial Industry‘ and lead to ‘reproductive tourism‘. Analyse both the positive and negative impacts this had on India. To what extent, the ART bill seeks to address the above concerns. (200 Words)

Assisted reproductive technology (ART) where embryo is implanted and grown in rented womb of surrogate mother is surrogacy
 

Reasons for commercialization of surrogacy in India:

  1. Lack of regulating frame work
  2. Cheap but confident medical techniques and services
  3. Availability of poor women who are willing to rent their wombs.
     

Above factors in turn led to “reproductive tourism” into India which has been a mixed bag of results for India.

Positive effects

  1. Tourism- forex to the government
  2. Surrogate mothers will be benefited as they get some kind of livelihood.
  3. Problem couples can get children at lower costs.

Problem areas

  1. Middle men emerged claiming lot of commissions. Hence the poor surrogate women are getting low returns. Their rights are being violated. They are not allowed to meet their husbands throughout the gestational period.
  2. Sex selective illegal techniques.
  3. Lack of regulation led to questions over citizenship of child.

New ART is legalizing surrogacy. It is mandating medical visa and marriage stipulation to parents and also an acknowledgement from concerned national government that allows the couple to undergo this process in India. It also mandates a notary contract between surrogate mother and biological parents but problems with regards to right to abortion in case of emergency and issue of middle men are not dealt effectively.

Government has recently banned foreigners from having children through surrogate mothers in India. The government expressed its reluctance to allow commercial surrogacy, while supporting altruistic surrogacy for married infertile Indian couples. Examine the effects of this ban on the people involved in commercial surrogacy. (200 Words)

Under Assisted reproductive Technology legislation the union government tried to switch surrogacy from a commercial practice to an altruistic help to who are genuinely looking for it. Following would be the impacts

POSITIVE IMPACTS 

  1. It will protect and promote the dignity of motherhood which has a very sacrosanct status in Indian ethos and culture. 
  2. End the plight of the mother who has forcefully go far repeated pregnancies and surgeries. 
  3. The fate of child disowned by client parents in case of some discrepancies. 
  4. The exploiting middleman who are earning major chunk of money. 
  5. To optimize the population which already is very high.

NEGATIVE IMPACTS 

  1. Loss of revenue of government via medical tourism.
  2. The source of income from a large section of illiterate women who could provide a better future to their children. 
  3. The practice of illegal/secret surrogacy will increase the cost and make the women more vulnerable to exploitation by the police and other government agencies that in turn will increase the corruption and litigation.
  4. To get pregnant or not should be the discretion of a mother and it should not be intervened by government in a democracy. It may project a conservative and anti- liberal image of India.

So nothing wrong in banning the surrogacy while providing a window for needy ones, on ethical ground but the alternative skills and means of livelihood should we arranged sincerely.