Germany may give visas to surrogate twins (Second Lead)

January 4th, 2010 - 10:00 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 4 (IANS) Germany said Monday it would consider giving visas to German twins born to an Indian surrogate mother, as the Supreme Court asked the Indian government to settle the issue in a fortnight through diplomatic channels.
German Ambassador Thomas Mataussek said his country would consider giving visas to the twins if the Indian government approached it.

“If the Indian government approaches us, we will certainly take note of it. We will not reject it outright,” the German envoy told CNN-IBN when asked whether Germany would reconsider giving visas to the twins if the Indian government gave them one-time passport.

“We have to be very careful. We don’t want to set a precedent,” Mataussek said. “We don’t want to encourage people to go down this path. This is not the way to put children into the world,” the envoy added.

Germany does not recognise surrogacy as a means of parenthood.

An apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice Asok Ganguly gave the government a fortnight to solve the tangle.

Earlier, Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium apprised the court of the government’s effort to settle the issue. He told the bench that the external affairs ministry is in touch with the German embassy and expects some positive solution to the problem at the earliest.

The government, however, needed some more time to continue its effort, said Subramanium, seeking adjournment of the hearing by a fortnight. The bench adjourned the hearing to Jan 18.

The government had earlier moved the apex court challenging a Gujarat High Court order to issue passports to the twins.

The union government is opposed to the grant of Indian passport to the twins on the ground that it would mean granting them Indian citizenship.

The Gujarat High Court gave its order on a lawsuit of a German couple, Jan Balaz and his wife, seeking passports for their twins who were born in January 2008 to a surrogate Indian mother in Gujarat.

The couple came to India in December 2006 in search of a surrogate mother. They entered into an agreement with Marthaben, according to which she lost her right over the child after delivery.

On the plea of the German couple last month during hearing of the government’s lawsuit, the apex court asked the government to provide travel documents to the twins within 48 hours, and asked the couple to approach the German embassy for visa for the twins.

The bench later on Dec 17 considered the question of granting the twins a one-time Indian passport and asked the German couple to convince the court of its bonafides that they would forgo the children’s Indian citizenship after reaching Germany.

The German couple, accordingly, submitted an undertaking to the court that they would submit the passport to the Indian embassy in Germany after reaching there.

In his affidavit to the apex court, Jan Balaz said earlier too he had submitted his passport to the Indian authorities.

Balaz told the court that “he was ready to deposit a reasonable sum equivalent to the fare of three persons before any court in India to secure the travel of the children, if required”.

Solicitor General Subramanium termed Balaz’s undertaking as “fair”, while seeking more time for the government’s continuing diplomatic efforts to secure citizenship and a state for the stateless twins.

If no decision is taken on the legal status of the twins, the legal community has voiced apprehensions that the two children may end up being stateless citizens.

Last month, a Supreme Court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice A.K. Ganguly expressed their dilemma.

“Should we treat children born out of surrogacy as commodities?” they asked Jan Balaz and Susan Lohle after they could not tell the court clearly whether the twins could get German citizenship if India did not grant it to them.

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