11/08/2015 9:32 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Rajasthan High Court Bans Jain Ritual Of 'Santhara' Or Fast Unto Death

In this Wednesday, June 9, 2010 photograph, a woman worships a 41 foot (12.5 meters) tall statue of Jain sage Lord Bahubali carved out of a single block of granite in Sihor, 200 kilometers (125 miles) from Ahmadabad, India. Jainism, which originated in India, has nearly 4 million followers in the country. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

The Rajasthan High Court has held the Jain religious ritual of 'Santhara' (fast unto death) illegal, making it punishable under section 306 and 309 IPC (abetment of suicide).

"Santhara or fast unto death is not an essential tenet of Jainism, " the HC said adding it cannot be termed as humane and it's violative of basic human rights.

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the legality of 'Santhara' was filed in the high court in 2006 by an advocate Nikhil Soni.

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, then 'Santhara' cannot be allowed either, he had contended.

Upholding the contention, the division bench of the high court held the practice as violative of human rights.

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