Mumbai college to host moot court on surrogacy

August 20th, 2008 - 6:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Aug 20 (IANS) Close on the heels of a court battle over a baby girl born to a surrogate mother, a prominent law college here is to host a moot court competition on the issue Aug 22-24.Twenty-four law schools and colleges will be participating in the first Rizvi Law College National Moot Court Competition.

A moot court is a simulated trial or appellate-level legal argument made before a judge or panel of judges. Participants present oral and written arguments about a legal question.

Usually, written arguments are submitted prior to the oral arguments, just as a written brief would be submitted to a court prior to the hearing the matter. Participants are judged on both their oral and written arguments.

According to Rizvi Law College principal Daisy Alexander, the institution “is well known for its city and state level moot court competitions that expose law students to the best teams throughout Maharashtra”.

“In continuation with providing an exciting learning experience for law students, the college has organised this moot court competition on surrogacy, which is a current legal issue,” Alexander added.

The panel of judges comprises Justices Bilal Nazki and Ashutosh Kumbhakoni of the Mumbai High Court, senior counsel T.N. Subramanium, and lawyers Mrinalini Deshmukh, Anand Desai, Mohit Kapoor and Apurva Agarwal.

According to Agarwal: “There is no surrogacy law in India protecting either the biological surrogate mother or the genetic parents. Indian adoption law also prevents the adoption of a female child by its father if the parents are separated as in the recent case of the Japanese couple who came to India.”

“Low cost of treatment and easy availability of women opting for surrogacy is attracting a lot of international couples to India; hence there is an urgent need to have laws protecting not just surrogate mother but also the child and the couple,” she said.

The objective of the moot court, she added, was to attract the attention of the high authorities towards the legal issue of surrogacy.

The Supreme Court Wednesday allowed 74-year-old Japanese woman Emiko Yamada to take custody of her 25-day-old grandaughter Manji, born to an Indian surrogate mother.

A bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and M.K. Sharma also asked the NGO Satya to explain its locus standi on the matter. Satya is opposing custody being given to the Japanese relatives, and claiming that Manji is an abandoned baby.

Solicitor General of India G.E. Vahanvati has been asked to appear before the court on the next date of hearing to clarify the central government’s stand on various issues arising out of the baby’s birth - including who her parents are in the absence of surrogacy laws in India and her citizenship.

Manji, born in Gujarat’s Anand town, got entangled in a legal tussle as Indian laws prohibit the child’s divorced Japanese father from taking her custody.

The baby’s parents, Ikufumi Yamada, 45, and his wife Yuki Yamada, 41, came to India a year ago and hired the services of a surrogate mother. The couple separated and then divorced before the baby was born.

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