Tamil Nadu health department on Wednesday gave a clean chit to Tamil actor Nayanthara and director husband Vignesh Shivan, and said that the couple did not violate the surrogacy law, putting an end to the controversy over their newborn twin boys.
The state’s health and family welfare department had formed the three-member committee earlier this month, which found that the couple had registered their marriage on March 11, 2016. Their family physician, in a letter in 2020, had recommended surrogacy.
“The surrogate mother was found to be of the appropriate age, is married and has a child–which is all mandated under the law,” the committee said, adding that the age of the intending couple is within the eligibility criteria.
“Oocytes and sperm were obtained in August 2020. Embryos which were created were cryopreserved in the hospital. The surrogacy agreement was signed in November 2021. In March 2022, the embryos were implanted in the uterus of the surrogate mother who delivered in October,” said a statement from the government. The twins were delivered through a C-section in a private Chennai hospital.
The probe panel has given a clean chit to the couple for following the surrogacy law and regulations under the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
However, the panel found that the hospital did not maintain proper records of the treatment provided to the couple.
The panel has sent a notice to the hospital seeking an explanation as to why its licence should not be cancelled.
A controversy erupted after the couple, which got married in June this year in a star-studded wedding in Mahabalipuram just outside Chennai, announced the birth of their twins on October 9 on social media. Questions were raised on whether they followed the law, which states that the couple has to be married for at least five years.
The Union government, in December last year, notified the Surrogacy (Regulation) Act, 2021, which came into effect on January 25 this year. The law imposes a total prohibition on commercial surrogacy, and allows only altruistic surrogacy, wherein except for medical expenses and the insurance cover of the surrogate, no other charges or expenses are covered by the intended parents.
Under the new Act, the surrogate mother has to be a relative of the couple but the government’s report says that ICMR guidelines before the Act had a provision for non-relatives to be surrogates and received payment only for essential medical expenses.
The Surrogacy (Regulation) Act provided an exemption for ten months from the commencement of the law for the ongoing surrogacy procedure of any form, keeping in mind the well-being of the surrogates.
Both the Surrogacy (Regulation) Act 2021 and the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Act 2021 came into force on January 25, 2022.
The couple didn’t comment on the matter.