Delhi High Court seeks Centre’s response in parent’s plea seeking release of deceased son’s sperm

The Delhi High Court Wednesday sought the Centre’s response in a plea seeking directions for the release of the frozen semen sample of a 30-year-old, who died of cancer in 2020, to his parents.

Allowing the impleadment of the Centre – through the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare – a single judge bench of Justice Yashwant Varma issued notice to it noting that the high court’s decision would have an impact on the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Act, 2021, a central legislation, and therefore the Centre’s stand was important in the matter. The matter is next listed in January 2023.

In a previous hearing, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital at Rajinder Nagar had told the high court that there are no laws or legal proceedings in the country to release frozen samples of an unmarried male to his legal heirs.

“The sample is still kept cryopreserved at the centre of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital and the respondent is not in a position to release the semen sample to the petitioner in the absence of any guidelines/regulations or directions,” the health institute told the court.

In June 2020, the son of the couple was diagnosed with cancer and other health problems. The patient was told by the doctors that due to treatment, his capacity to produce sperm and its fertility level can degrade in future. The semen of the patient was subsequently preserved in the IVF lab of the hospital the same month. In September 2020, he died.

The parents of the deceased approached the hospital in December 2020 for the release of the sperm sample as both of them “wanted to carry the legacy of their deceased son further”. However, the hospital refused to hand over the sample to the parents and asked them to get a court order as no guideline exists for discharging sperm to the legal heirs. The couple had been paying the charges for preserving the semen but the hospital refused to accept any payments after some time, alleges the plea.

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