The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill amid frequent disruptions over the Rafale jet deal and Cauvery dam dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The Rajya Sabha, meanwhile, was adjourned for the day soon after it met at 11 am amid similar commotion. Wednesday was the sixth working day of the Winter Session of Parliament.
The Lok Sabha resumed proceedings after being adjourned till noon as members of the Congress, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Telugu Desam Party chanted slogans once again. Inside the House and outside, AIADMK legislators protested against construction of a dam across the Cauvery river.
The Congress demanded an inquiry by a Joint Parliamentary Committee into the Rafale deal, while the Telugu Desam Party continued to seek the special category status for Andhra Pradesh. As many as 40 MPs descended to the Well of the House, prompting Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to adjourn proceedings.
Upon resumption, Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, claimed people had “serious apprehensions” about the Rafale deal. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the government is ready for a discussion on the matter, but rejected the Congress’ demand for a parliamentary panel inquiry.
Union minister Pon Radhakrishan raised the matter of pilgrims allegedly suffering due to police action in Kerala’s Sabarimala, The Hindu reported. In November, policemen had allegedly stopped Radhakrishnan’s car while he was on his way to the shrine.
The Lok Sabha then took up the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016, which prohibits commercial surrogacy. “It’s a historic day,” Union Health Minister JP Nadda said. “All parties wanted commercial surrogacy to be stopped.”
Trinamool Congress MP Kakoli Ghosh supported the bill, but said there should be a public debate on it. Ghosh added that there is no mention of same-sex couples and live-in partners in the bill. “How else can two male partners have babies?” she asked.
The bill, in its current form, allows only married couples to have children through surrogacy. It also prohibits payment for surrogacy, allowing the mother to have a child only for “altruistic purposes”.
Biju Janata Dal MP Bhartruhari Mahtab said the bill does not mention an appeals process if the plea of a couple to have a child through surrogacy is rejected. Mahtab added that the proposed legislation does not define a “close relative” who can become a mother. The ambit of the bill should be widened to include live-in couples, homosexuals, widows and single persons, the MP said.
However, BJP legislator Nishikant Dubey opposed Mahtab, claiming that the bill adheres to the “Indian tradition”, and hence denies surrogacy to live-in couples and homosexuals. He asserted that while the Supreme Court has decriminalised homosexuality, it has not made any ruling on same-sex marriage.
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned the House for the day after AIADMK members protested over the Cauvery water row. “The Cauvery problem cannot be solved like this,” Mahajan said. “You have to talk [with concerned persons].”
The Consumer Protection Bill, which was to be taken up by the House on Wednesday, will be discussed on Thursday.