Japanese granny gets custody of baby born to surrogate mother

August 14th, 2008 - 11:08 pm ICT by IANS  


New Delhi, Aug 14 (IANS) The Supreme Court Thursday gave temporary custody of a 20-day-old baby born to an Indian surrogate mother to the infant’s Japanese grandmother. A bench of judges Arijit Pasayat and S.H. Kapadia passed the order at a special hearing at Pasayat’s residence Thursday evening as it was a court holiday. The urgent hearing became necessary as the court would be closed Friday due to Independence Day, as also over the weekend.

The order came on the plea of 74-year-old grandmother Emiko Yamada, who challenged a Rajasthan High Court order asking the Rajasthan Police to take Manji baby into its custody and produce her before the court.

The high court order had come on a lawsuit by Jaipur-based NGO Sathya seeking to prevent the baby’s father from taking her to Japan.

The apex court said: “Until further orders, the child will be in the custody of Yamada who is stated to be the grandmother. The police will not take any steps for the production of the child before the high court.”

Yamada had to approach the apex court as her son Ikufumi Yamada, the baby’s father, had to leave India after his visa expired.

On the grandmother’s plea, the apex court bench also issued notice to the central government and NGO Satya.

Yamada’s counsel Navin R. Nath also sought an apex court order to the central government to issue travel documents to baby Manji so that she could be taken to japan.

The apex court also sought the response of the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) to Nath’s contention that “the national guidelines for accreditation, supervision and regulation of assisted reproductive technologies clinics consider the baby as the legitimate child of the biological father.”

NGO Satya had contended before the Rajasthana High Court that in the absence of a surrogacy law in the country, no one could claim to be the baby’s legitimate parent.

The NGO had contended that that entrusting the child’s custody to her grandmother could not be termed legal as neither its Indian surrogate mother nor its biological, sperm-donor Japanese father had sought the baby’s custody.

It had also argued that the Indian surrogate mother had rented her womb purely on financial considerations and with scant regard for human values.

Terming the Indian woman’s pregnancy as an “illegitimate conception”, the NGO apprehended that such practices could promote child trafficking.

Manji got caught in a legal wrangle after her surrogate mother delivered her in Anand, Gujarat, July 25. The legal tussle arose as India’s laws prohibit the child’s divorced Japanese father from taking her custody. The baby’s parents were divorced soon after her conception.

The baby’s parents Ikufumi Yamada, 45, and his then-wife Yuki Yamada, 41, had come to India a year ago and hired the services of a surrogate mother.

Soon after the baby was born and shifted to Ahmedabad, the city was hit by serial bombings. Manji was then moved to a hospital in Jaipur, where she is now being looked after.

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