Supreme Court allows Santhara, stays ban by Rajasthan High Court

Animating object of exercise is neither speedy death nor desire for enhanced life span

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday stayed until further orders the Rajasthan High Court judgment quashing ‘Santhara’, a religious practice of dying followed by the Jains for several centuries.

By staying the verdict, a bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice Amitav Roy allowed ‘Santhara’ to continue till its legality is finally decided by the apex court. The High Court had held that ‘Santhara’ amounted to ‘suicide’ and was not legally permissible.

The bench after hearing senior counsel Harish Salve, Gopal Subramanian, Abhishek Singhi and Amit Bhandari granted the stay and admitted a batch of appeals filed by Sthanakvasi Jain Sharavak Sangh and others against the judgment.

Additional solicitor general P.S. Narasimha, appearing for Rajasthan submitted that the government was supporting the petitioners’ stand in opposing the judgment. The appellants submitted that Santhara was simply a Jain way of mastering the art of dying as much as the act of living.

The animating object of the exercise is neither speedy death nor desire for enhanced life span. Preconditions to Santhara are unavoidable calamity, terminal illness, great natural disaster or imminent death in old age.

A Jain may then embark on the ultimate renunciation of his life by preparing for a cheerful, stoic and positive outlook on death after having sought all forgiveness and made every attempt to divorce himself from every possible attachment of life.

( Source : deccan chronicle )
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