NEW DELHI: Clinics and banks offering in-vitro fertilisation and other related services across India will soon have to maintain minimum standards in qualification of manpower, infrastructure, laboratory and diagnostic equipment. The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the Artificial Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2020 which will pave the way for mandatory registration of all ART clinics and constitution of a national board for ART.
The board will monitor ART clinics centrally and will be empowered to frame code of conduct for people working at such centres. The Bill, which was dubbed as a path-breaking by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, has also suggested fixing age limits of 50 and 55 years for women and men, respectively, as reported by this newspaper earlier this month.
The government admits that while ART clinics in India offer nearly all the services — gamete donation, intrauterine insemination, IVF, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and gestational surrogacy — there is yet no standardisation of protocols and reporting on these clinics is still very inadequate. The ART Bill prepared by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) also says that along with a national board, there will be state boards to monitor the functioning of such clinics and there will be national registry and registration authority to maintain a central database and assist the national board in its functioning.
The Bill also proposes stringent punishment for that practising sex selection, sale of human embryos or gametes, running agencies or rackets for such unlawful practices. The extent of punishment, however, will be defined in the rules that will be notified later. ICMR sources said while the Bill has been in making for over 15 years, shocking cases of 70-plus women achieving motherhood through IVF due to lack of any regulation of the sector led to its fast-tracking. However, some in the industry, which is expected to reach nearly `500 crore by 2022, expressed disappointment with certain clauses in the Bill.
Constitution of 22nd law panel approved
The Union Cabinet approved the constitution of the 22nd Law Commission which advises the government on complex legal issues. The term of the previous law panel had ended on August 31 last year. The law ministry will now notify the new panel, which will have a term of three years. The panel will have a full-time chair-person, four full-time members (including a member secretary) and law and legislative secretaries in the law ministry as ex-officio members. “It will also have not more than five part-time members,” a statement said.