Jain ’s in Hyderabad call for Bandh

  • Rajasthan High Court Bans Jain Ritual of ‘Santhara’ or Fast unto Death

Lata Jain

The Rajasthan High Court has held the Jain religious ritual of ‘Santhara’ (fast unto death) illegal, making it punishable under section 306 and 309 IPC (abutment of suicide).

lata jain

Lata Jain

“Santhara or fast unto death is not an essential tenet of Jainism,” the High Court said adding it cannot be termed as humane and it’s voilative of basic human rights.

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the legality of ‘Santhara’ was filed in the high court in 2006 by an advocate Nikhil Soni.

The petitioner’s lawyer had said ‘Santhara’, which is fast unto death by giving up food and water, is in violation of the Right to Life. If euthanasia is not allowed, practice of Sati is banned and suicide is illegal, then ‘Santhara’ cannot be allowed either, he had contended.

Upholding the contention, the division bench of the high court held the practice as violation of human rights.

In Shwetambars, Santhara is observed to embrace death by fasting. The community feels Santhara cannot be considered suicide, as the Santhara vow is taken by a person only when he feels that his life has served its purpose. The goal of Santhara is to purify the body and to strive to abandon desire.

Mr.Narendra Jain buisness man and scholar said Santhara is an age old Jain ritual and it should not be equated with suicide or mercy killing.

He said Sanlekhna (for Digambar Jains) and Santhara are the rituals of opting to die in a spiritual way and for thousands of years was recognised as a noble way of embracing death. Justice Jain said in the Jain religion those dying after observing Santhara are hailed as virtual religious heroes and the society gives the person a dignified funeral.

He added that in ancient times even gods and goddesses opted for death and Lord Rama embraced death by drowning himself in a river. Mr.Jain said Santhara is a religious ritual and no law can prevent people from observing it.

The Jains in Hyderabad have called for a bandh of business houses belonging to the Jain community on Monday. Jain Students belonging to various schools and colleges would not attend schools or go to offices opposing this decision.

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