Mumbai surrogacy scam: Scope widens as police begin probe
After Bhostekar's expose, police have written to JJ Hospital to investigate matter against the accused and Jaslok Hospital; ex-mayor wants BMC and health ministry to step in
Four days ago, mid-day exposed the loopholes in the Indian surrogacy system as it highlighted the case of a man who, in his wanton desire for a son, went the surrogacy route without the consent of his wife, aided by Jaslok Hospital. Now, the full force of the judicial system is about to fall on him, as the police, due its inexperience in medical examinations has claimed it has roped in JJ Hospital to investigate the matter. Additionally, former Mumbai mayor, Nirmala Prabhavalkar, has said that once she has collected all proof, she will request the state health ministry and BMC to intervene in the matter.
JJ role unclear
In a letter to the complainant, Shubhangi Bhostekar, (a copy of which is with mid-day) the Mulund police has written, “According to your written complaint, the JJ Hospital has been instructed to constitute a panel to conduct an inquiry of Jaslok Hospital and the concerned Prakash Bhostekar surrogacy case doctor. Following the report, further course of action would be decided.” However, Dr TP Lahane, the dean of the hospital stated that so far, he hasn't received the letter. Even the hospital in question, Jaslok, has said that it hasn't received any police intimation on the matter, so they “have nothing to comment on the matter” as yet.
Shubhangi with their two daughters
All for a son
According to a complaint filed in October last year by his estranged wife, Bhostekar, a 40-year-old businessman, had submitted a fake affidavit claiming he was single to the Jaslok Hospital in his bid to sire a son.
Shubhangi, who also has two daughters with Prakash, had filed an FIR against her in-laws for dowry harassment under section 498 along with a written complaint against the hospital and the noted Dr Firuza Parikh, director of IVF and Genetics at Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre. She had recently filed a similar complaint with the Union Woman and Child Welfare Department, Human Right Commission along with the Maharashtra State Commission For Protection of Child Right (MSCPCR) that had then sent a notice to Mulund police station to file an FIR against the hospital.
While Prakash has admitted to “making a mistake”, he has attributed it to his wife's “adultery”, claiming he thought that since they weren't living together, he thought it was “normal to say he was single”. However, in India, unless divorced, one can't opt for surrogacy without the spouse's consent.
What of the authorities?
Meanwhile, when mid-day contacted DCP (Zone 7), Sachin Patil, he said, “As the case is under investigation, I would not be able to comment on it.”
However, ex-mayor Prabhavalkar, condemning the hospital's negligence for their failure to crosscheck documents, will write to higher authorities to intervene.
“Surrogacy follows strict procedures and such loopholes should not be accepted. It seems like the hospital saved the accuser and played fraud. I am going through all the documents including surrogacy bill, affidavit submitted and the concert provision,” she said, adding, “When a patient underwent treatment under the same doctor two years ago, how can they claim that they were unaware of it? I am also writing to the health ministry and BMC to intervene into the matter as it is very serious,” she said.
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