Pune: No relief for NRI in surrogacy battle
He had sued doctor, hospital for deficiency in service as despite paying upfront they told him much later that procedure could not go through owing to his residential status
Pune: The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum on Friday dismissed the case of an NRI, who was told by doctors that the procedure of surrogacy that he paid for, could not proceed due to legal issues because of his residential status. He had sued the hospital and doctors for deficiency in service, as he claimed to have paid them over Rs 2.20 lakh and they had assured him the surrogacy could be done legally.
Amyn Amirali Batliwala, 40, who currently resides at Koregaon Park with his sister, had filed two separate cases against Dr. Sunita Tandulwadkar, head of the IVF department at Ruby Hall Clinic, junior doctor Kaushik and the clinic. One was in the consumer forum and the other is a private case of cheating and criminal breach of trust, filed by his lawyer Aashuutosh Srivastava in the district court.
As per the plaint, Batliwala had informed Dr Tandulwadkar that he had separated from his wife. He had an Indian passport, stayed in London, and wanted a child through surrogacy. The complaint further said that he came to India in October 2017 and visited Ruby Hall Clinic for medical tests. The Batliwalas were explained there that the cost for surrogacy was R3.50 lakh. The complaint also said that they were told they would be charged over Rs 2 lakh more for various other tests, and for the agent, the surrogate etc.
Batliwala recalled, "I paid Rs 2.20 lakh in cash at Solo Clinic (Dr Tandulwadkar's private clinic). Doctors assured me that surrogacy could be done legally. Usually the charges for it are Rs 1.20 lakh but as I am an NRI, an additional Rs 1 lakh was demanded." He claimed doctors called him several times on the pretext of medical tests for which Dr Tandulwadkar charged him separately. Later, the agent found a Mumbai-based surrogate and he paid Rs 12,000 in cash for initial treatment there. He claimed to have paid more later.
"All of a sudden on January 1, 2018, the doctor informed me that due to some legal issues as I was an NRI, they could not proceed further with the procedure. When I asked them to refund the amount, they evaded it," Batliwala said.
His lawyer Srivastava said, "The doctors and the hospital violated and breached the provisions of the Indian Medical Council (Professional conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations, 2002. They caused grave mental torture, stress, trauma and irreparable loss to Batliwala."
However, advocate Dara Irani who pleaded the hospital and doctors' case, said, "Batliwala failed to show documents as demanded by us. My clients were ready to refund the amount." Dr Tandulwadkar had filed an affidavit in the consumer forum, in which she had claimed that Batliwala had failed to deposit proof of residence and stopped coming to Solo Clinic. She claimed that they had offered to refund the amount but he was not willing to go ahead with the surrogacy. She alleged that the hospital had a cheque of Rs 2,82,324 ready for Batliwala, but it was unclaimed.
Consumer forum president Anil Khadse and members Kshitija Kulkarni and Sangita Deshmukh on Friday dismissed the plaint. Srivastava said, "We had pleaded with the district court that it direct the police to register an FIR against the hospital and doctors. It has ordered the police to probe the case and submit the report." It will hear the complaint in August.
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