SC stayed Rajasthan HC judgment banning Santhara ritual of Jainism

Santhara is a voluntary religious practice of facing death at the end of one's life.

Aug 31, 2015 11:06 IST
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The Supreme Court of India (SC) on 31 August 2015 stayed the Rajasthan High Court (HC) judgment that banned Santhara ritual of Jainism.  Santhara is a voluntary religious practice of facing death at the end of one's life.

The stay was ordered by a bench headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) H L Dattu while hearing a batch of petitions filed by Jain religious organizations that were on protest mode since the HC judgment.

The Rajasthan HC on 10 August 2015 termed the Santhara as illegal and an offence punishable under the section 306 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The section deals with abetment to committing suicide.

Further, the HC held the view that right to death is not a fundamental right extended by the article 21 of the constitution that provides for the right to life.

About Santhara

• It is an ancient ritual and also called Sallekhana or Samadhi-marana or Sanyasana-marana.
• It is the voluntary starvation to embrace death. Its purpose is to purge old karmas and prevent the creation of new ones. There is a similar Hindu practice known as Prayopavesa or sanjeevan samadhi.
• Sallekhana, made up from two words sal (meaning 'properly') and lekhana, which means to thin out, is a highly respected practice among the members of the Jain community.
• It is prescribed both for the householder (sravakas) and ascetics. It is allowed only when a person suffering from incurable disease or great disability or when a person is nearing his end. The Swetambar sect of the community practices this ritual.
• Chandragupta Maurya, founder of the Maurya Empire, died by observing the vow of Sallekhana atop Chandragiri Hill at Śravaṇa Beḷgoḷa in Karnataka in the third century BC.

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