Supreme Court allows Jains to continue practicing ‘Santhara’

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Supreme Court has permitted Jain’s ‘Santhara’ ritual to continue. This after Rajasthan High Court in their judgement last month had declared ‘Santhara’ to be form of suicide and hence illegal.

‘Santhara’ is a voluntary custom under which Jains starve to death. A group of petitions challenged this High Court order in Supreme Court saying it impeded upon right to freedom of religion as guaranteed by our constitution.

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As part of their religion, Jains can take a vow to give up food and water as a way of embracing death. It is unclear how many deaths occur every year but local media put the number at a couple of hundred.

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The High Court verdict was based on a petition by an activist in Rajasthan who argued the practice was against the law. He questioned whether elderly Jains were being encouraged to take the vow to free families of the burden of taking care of them, an argument Jains deny.

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