Speed News Desk | Updated on: 13 February 2017, 3:37 IST
The Rajasthan High Court on 10 August passed a judgement which declared the Jain community's 'Santhara' practice as illegal.
What is the judgement?
- The High Court has banned Santhara, and made it punishable under section 306 (abetment of suicide) of the Indian Penal Code.
- It stated that Santhara is illegal in the eyes of law
Why the judgement?
- The decision came after a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by human rights activist and advocate Nikhil Soni about 10 years ago, in which he claimed that the ritual is a social evil and should be considered as suicide.
- The court observed Santhara as suicide and stated that any person using religion as a reason for Santhara is liable to be charged.
- This practice had come to light in 2006 when 93-year-old Keila Devi Hirawat from Jaipur had fasted unto death. Whether the modern world had any place for this ritual became a matter of debate.
What is Santhara?
- It is a controversial Jain practice in which a person gives up food and water and fasts unto death.
- The Swetambar (white sect) of the Jain community practises the age-old ritual. They consider it the ultimate way to attain 'moksha' (release from the cycle of rebirth).
- It is usually adopted by a person who believes her or his life has served its purpose, which means it is practised mostly by elders nearing death or having no desire to live any more.
- The Jain community is unhappy with the court's verdict and is arguing that the ritual it is a voluntary act and a product of rational thinking that marks the beginning of a journey of understanding the inherently painful and flawed nature of earthly existence.
- They claim this verdict is a direct violation of the Indian Constitution's guarantee of religious freedom.