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Supreme court lifts ban on Santhara

The Supreme court allowed the practice of Santhara to continue by staying a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) issued by Human Rights activist Nikhil Soni last month in August.

The decision to lift the ban came up after weeks of protest from the Jain community which claims to be following this practice since time immemorial.

The Santhara also known as Sallekhana is a religious practice where an individual voluntarily fasts unto death, to release oneself from the cycle of rebirth and thus proclaiming that they have served their purpose on earth.

The Rajasthan High court had earlier banned Santhara based on a biased decision as per the arguments pointed out by Nikhil Soni. He claimed that such practices were social evil and equal with that of a suicide. The High court wasted no time in making the practice punishable under section 306 and 309 ( abatement to suicide) of the Indian Penal Code.

Some of the other reasons behind banning Santhara was that it breached the constitution of India on the grounds of Article 21 which guarantees the right to life and also because mostly the elders of the house followed this religious custom, the concern was that this practice can also be misused as a way for relieving families from the burden of the old ones.

The Jain community in response claimed that Suicide is a sin and Santhara is a religion, and also stating that the High court’s decision violated them of their constitutional rights, that is the right to freedom of religion.

The Santhara is also performed mostly by elders of the house, young adults and children are strictly forbidden from following it.

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