Surrogate twins: government gets fortnight to fix citizenship (Lead)

January 4th, 2010 - 8:33 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 4 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday gave the government a fortnight to settle the tangled issue of the citizenship of twins born to a surrogate Indian mother and German biological parents.
A bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice Asok Ganguly gave the government a fortnight to solve the issue through diplomatic channels.

Earlier, Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium had apprised the court of the government’s effort to settle the matter. He told the bench that the external affairs ministry is in touch with the German embassy on the issue 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 matter by a fortnight. The bench adjourned the matter to Jan 18.

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

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

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

The couple had come 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 had asked the government to provide travel documents to the twins within 48 hours, while asking them to approach the German embassy for visa to 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 that they would forgo the child’s Indian citizenship after reaching Germany.

The German couple, accordingly, submitted an undertaking to the court saying 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.

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