The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared a draft Bill on surrogacy, which aims to impose a "complete ban" on commercial surrogacy. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said couples who are "medically unfit to have children" can seek help from a close relative, which is called altruistic surrogacy. However, who qualifies as a close relative has yet to be defined, NDTV reported.

Once passed in Parliament, foreigners, single parents, non-resident Indians, live-in couples and homosexual couples will not be allowed to have surrogate babies, in addition to couples who already have children. The Bill also specifies that only couples married for at least five years can seek surrogacy, Swaraj said.

The proposed law aims to protect the rights of surrogate mothers a nd legalise the parentage of such children. The draft Bill also aims to regulate the process by which surrogacy is commissioned in India and make it "legal and transparent", according to the Health Ministry proposal.

The Cabinet took up the Bill for consideration after it was cleared by a group of ministers set up by the Prime Minister's Office. It comprised Health Minister JP Nadda, Food Processing Industries Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, PTI reported.

The clearance comes after the Centre recently admitted that immoral individuals exploited surrogate mothers as a result of the absence of laws regulating the commissioning of surrogacy. Foreigners are barred from commissioning surrogacy in India, as part of efforts to prevent such exploitation of women.