New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the Rajasthan High Court order which termed the Jain religious ritual Santhara (fast unto death) as illegal.
"Issue notice. Leave granted," a bench comprising Chief Justice HL Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy said while staying the HC order and issuing notices to the Centre, Rajasthan and others. The bench was hearing a batch of petitions filed by various religious bodies of Jain community members against the High Court order on Santhara.
The Rajasthan High Court had in August made Santhara punishable under section 306 and 309 IPC (abatement of suicide). "Santhara or fast unto death is not an essential tenet of Jainism," the HC had said, adding it cannot be termed as humane and is in violation with the basic human rights.
A Public Interest Litigation(PIL) challenging the legality of 'Santhara' was filed in the high court in 2006.
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, 'Santhara' cannot be allowed either.
The community lawyers had argued that 'Santhara' is a spiritual practice since times immemorial which the court must not interfere with.
It is also known Sallekhana Vruta. On average, 240 Jains practice sallekhana until death each year in India.