July 15, 2016 12:40 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, July 15: The Supreme Court on Thursday quashed writ petitions filed for and against surrogacy services provided by some Nepali hospitals stating that the court does not need to issue any order since the government has already banned the service.
Advocates Pushpa Raj Pandey and Prabin Pandak had filed writ petitions in August, 2015 at the apex court demanding an end to surrogacy services claiming that they were being operated in the country without any legal grounds. Responding the petitions, the single bench of the then chief justice Kalyan Shrestha in August, 2015 had issued an interim order to the government to immediately halt surrogacy services in the country. The SC had also stated that surrogacy services should be allowed only after formulating necessary laws and not on the basis of a letter provided by a department of the Ministry of Health and Population.
Following the legal controversy, a cabinet meeting on September 19, 2015, had decided to ban the service. Grande City Clinic and Hospital Pvt Ltd Chairman Roop Jyoti had also filed a petition at the apex court challenging the government decision and demanding scrapping of the writ petitions against surrogacy services.
A division bench of Chief Justice Sushila Karki and Justice Govinda Kumar Upadhyaya on Thursday, giving final verdict on all the writ petitions related to surrogacy, stated that it is not necessary to issue further order as the government itself has altered its previous decision and banned surrogacy services.
Several private hospitals had managed to secretly acquire a "permission letter" from an unauthorized department of the Ministry of Health and Population and started surrogacy services.
Hospitals like Grande City Clinic, Grande International Hospital, Om Hospital and Research Center, and Venus Hospital among others had been providing surrogacy services using Indian and Nepali women, who were brought to the hospitals through 'agents.'
Records at the Department of Immigration had showed that an Israeli couple was the first to take home a baby born in January 2014 in Nepal through a surrogate mother. The department had issued travel document for the baby in February 2014.
Nepal had emerged as a hub for commercial surrogacy in Asia after surrogacy was banned in Thailand and legal complications in India.