What is the legal impediment: Delhi HC to hospital on refusal to release sperm sample to cancer victim’s parents

The Delhi High Court Friday questioned Sir Ganga Ram Hospital’s reluctance to release the frozen semen sample of a 30-year-old who died of cancer in 2020 to his parents.

“If the son is unmarried, you become the owner or what? Do you want a succession certificate? What is the legal impediment?” asked the court after the counsel representing the hospital argued that there are no guidelines for the release of semen of an unmarried man to his parents.

While listing the case for further hearing on May 30, the court asked the hospital to place on record an affidavit of the Director or any other responsible officer in respect of the policy they follow in such cases.

Stating that it can release the semen sample to the parents on receiving a direction from the court, the counsel representing the hospital also submitted that there is a court judgment that says only the wife has a right in such cases.

The hospital had earlier told the High Court that there are no laws or legal procedures in the country to release frozen semen samples of an unmarried male to his legal heirs. “The sample is still kept cryopreserved at the centre of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, and respondent is not in a position to release the semen sample to petitioner in the absence of any guidelines/regulations or directions,” the health institute had told the court in response to the petition filed by a couple, who are in their 60s.

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 in June 2020. In September, 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, while asking them to get a court order as no guideline exists for discharging the 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.

Stating that the semen of the deceased is intact in its lab, the hospital, while citing a Calcutta High Court judgment, has said that only a wife has a right and the parents have no right to the frozen sample. However, the hospital has also undertaken to comply with the directions as may be issued by the appropriate authority to release the same.

Leave a Comment