NEW DELHI: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today offered to extend the visa of a British couple, who had a baby this May through surrogacy in India and face the prospect of leaving her in an orphanage as they have not been able to procure a passport for her.
"Chris & Michele Newman - Orphanage is not an option for Baby Lily. We will help u with extension of your Visa. Pl give your details. Meanwhile, pl obtain British passport for Baby Lily (Sic)," Swaraj said in a series of tweets.
The couple had come India on a medical visa that expired on September 7 and was subsequently extended for one month. Now their visa expires on October 7 and a British passport for the baby has to be obtained by that time.
The couple has started a petition on 'Change.Org', saying they have been "left stranded because of delays due to UK Passport Office (HMPO) checks".
"Lily's application for her UK passport has been with the Passport office since 3rd June, but processing delays with the international checks at the UK passport office have meant we are now left stranded — with no idea about when we will make it home.
"To make matters worse we have been given a deadline of 7th October to leave India, so must have Lily’s passport in our possession by this time or we must leave without her," the petition says.
Swaraj, who has faced flak from some quarters for her defence of the Centre's plan to ban commercial surrogacy in India, also used the matter to take a dig at critics and also questioned the British authorities.
"Will the advocates of commercial surrogacy suggest a solution and help this Baby? Commercial surrogacy is banned in Britain. Will British Government give a British passport to this surrogate Baby? Should orphanage be the destiny of a surrogate Baby?" she had posted on Twitter yesterday.