COMMERCIAL SURROGACY: THE BABY MANJI YAMADA CASE

Baby Manji Yamada vs Union Of India & Anr (2008) 13 SCC 518

WRIT PETITION (C) NO. 369 OF 2008


Name of the Judges: Arijit Pasayat, Mukundakam Sharma

Petitioner: Baby Manji Yamada

Respondents: Union of India & Anr



INTRODUCTION

The definition of “surrogacy” is somewhat standard and similar to most authoritative sources. The “Supreme Court of India” has explained the concept of surrogacy in the case of “Baby Manji Yamada.” The term "surrogate" comes from the Latin word "surrogate," which means "assigned to act with in place of." The intending parent(s) is a person or couple who wishes to raise a child after birth. “Surrogacy" is a well-known reproduction practice in which a woman gets pregnant to gestate and give birth to a kid that she will not nurture but will deliver to the intended parents. Surrogacy may be used by infertile people or unwilling to go through the childbearing process. A single parent may be the parent(s). For instance, a lady suffering from LHON concerned that the illness would be passed on to her children may enter into a surrogacy agreement.

Surrogacy has risen towards becoming India's third most popular international service. Because of its stigma, surrogacy is not widely recognised in India.



FACTS OF THE CASE

1. Dr Yuki Yamada and Dr Ikufumi Yamada, a Japanese married couple,” traveled to India in November 2007 in search of surrogate mothers and met with "a reproductive center in Anand, Gujarat,” which was popular worldwide because of its commercial surrogacy services.

2. “The child's father was Ikufumi Yamada,” who provided the sperm for embryo creation, while the egg donor was an anonymous Indian woman. The surrogacy procedure was used, and the foetus was implanted in the surrogate's womb (gestational carrier).

3. The commissioning couple had marital issues in June 2008, and the pair divorced. “Dr Yuki (designated mother)” refused to raise the baby because she had no biological or legal connection to it.



4. “The child's genetic parent, Dr Ikufumi Yamada, demanded custody.” Regardless, he was asked to return to Japan because his visa has expired. “Baby Manji was born on July 25, 2008,” in a hospital in Gujarat, following the divorce, and “Ms Emiko Yamada, the baby's paternal grandmother, came from Japan to care for the baby."

5. “The Anand Municipality provided a birth certificate to Manji Yamada in August 2008,” indicating the biological father's name. In mid-August, “an NGO, M/s SATYA, filed a Division Bench Habeas Corpus Writ Petition, often referred to as a PIL, before the High Court of Rajasthan, Jaipur Bench. It was directed at the Union of India via the Ministry of Home Affairs, the State of Rajasthan via the Principal Secretary, the Director-General of Police, the Government of Rajasthan, and the Superintendent of Police. Jaipur City (East), Jaipur.”



6. The writ petition questioned the legality of surrogacy, accused of sustaining an unlawful industry in India and urging the passage of surrogacy law. As a result, “the Division Bench of the High Court of Rajasthan" issued specific directions on the custody/production of the child, Manji Yamada, in the contested judgment.

7. “Ms Emiko Yamada, the child's grandmother," lodged a writ challenge in “the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution, contesting the Rajasthan High Court's order and the NGO, M/s Satya, was the Opposite Party No. 3 in this petition.” “Baby Manji Yamada vs Union of India (UOI) and Others” was the first case in which the Supreme Court issued a judgment concerning surrogacy. It highlighted the significance of developing surrogacy legislation in India.



PETITIONER SIDE

● The petitioner disputed Respondent No. 3's (M/s Satya, NGO) locus standi to file “the Writ Petition before the Rajasthan High Court."

● The petitioner had expressed concern that, while custody of the kid was sought, there was no evidence of who had illegal possession of the child.

● It was also asserted that the petition before “the High Court” was labeled as "public interest litigation," even though there was no element of public interest engaged in the current case; and

● The petitioner also requested that the baby's passport be issued and “the grandmother's visa be extended.”



RESPONDENT SIDE

● The respondent's position was that many irregularities were committed in surrogacy practice because there was no law in India to regulate surrogacy;

● They believed that surrogacy was being used to perpetuate a money-making racket.

● It was also the respondent's position that stringent laws be implemented for better regulation of surrogacy in India.



JUDGMENT OF THE CASE

Disposing of the writ petition, “the Supreme Court held” that:

● The petitioner was eligible for any legal remedy in the event of a complaint, such as a passport, visa, or movement, against “the Central Government's order.” It was mentioned that "the Commission for the Protection of Child Rights Act of 2005” was formed to protect children's rights and expedite the prosecution of crimes against children. If a decision is to be made in this case, it should be made by the Commission.



● There's no need to go into respondent three's locus standi, not whether bona fides were involved. Before the case of Baby Manji, no such petition had been filed in the Supreme Court. As a result, the order compelling her appearance before the Court was null and void.

● It was recommended that if someone has a complaint, they can bring it before the Commission established under the statute. It was underlined that the commission must evaluate a variety of essential factors.



CONCLUSION

Commercial surrogacy, also referred to as "wombs for rent," is still a thriving industry in India. Critics have referred to it as the "baby boom practice" or "parenthood by proxy." The political discussion against surrogacy has traditionally included feminist and religious issues.


The case of "Baby Manji Yamada v. Union of India and Others" was resolved by the Indian Supreme Court in 2008, making it the first surrogate verdict. It was developed under the assumption that surrogacy contracts were lawful and only discussed the legality of such arrangements. One of the fundamental flaws of the decision was its lack of conducting a thorough examination of the surrogate agreement and the circumstances that led to the case.



This article is written by Jyotsana Singh of Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad.

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