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Court asks estranged husband to meet ART expert as woman wants

In a unique ruling, a court in Maharashtra has granted the plea of a woman who wanted a second child from her estranged husband, and directed the couple to consult an assisted reproductive technology (ART) expert.

ART methods are primarily used to address infertility and include procedures such as in-vitro fertilisation, involving sperm donation.

Right to reproduce is a “very intricate feminine right emanating from woman’s basic human right,” the family court at Nanded said in its order last week.

It directed the woman and her husband, both of whom are doctors, to meet an ART expert within a month.

The couple got married in 2010 and had a child. Their relations soured subsequently and the husband filed a divorce petition at a court in Panvel in 2017.

The 35-year-old woman, who is from Nanded, moved the family court there seeking restitution of conjugal rights.

She also stated that she wanted another child from her estranged husband as her first son should have a sibling.

The divorce case was stuck in the Panvel court and the woman will lose her capacity to conceive as her age advances, so she wants a child through ART, said her lawyer Shivraj Patil.

In view of the broken marriage, it was essential that their son had a sibling for “sharing and caring”, he argued.

The husband opposed the petition, saying there was no legal provision under which such a relief can be granted.

But the family court observed that “unreasonable restrictions” should not be placed on woman’s right to procreate, especially when it is a “bonafide and legitimate wish”.

“It can also be seen that right to reproduce is a very intricate feminine right emanating from woman’s basic human right. Not allowing fertile woman to procreate is like compelling her to sterilise,” the judge said.

At the same time, no person can be forced to have a physical relationship with the spouse even if conjugal rights are granted, the court noted.

The court directed the couple to see a gynecologist within a month for consultation on ART procedure. The woman shall bear all the expenses of consultation, it said.

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