The Supreme Court of India has suspended an order of the Rajasthan High Court banning santhara – the controversial Jain ritual of fasting unto death.
Earlier this month, the Rajasthan High Court had ruled that the voluntary religious practice of santhara was a form of suicide and, therefore, illegal.
Jains had protested against the order, saying suicide was sin, whereas santhara was an ancient practice in their religion.
Santhara – also known as sallekhana – is a controversial practice in which a Jain gives up food and water with the intention of preparing for death.
Some human rights activists say the ritual is “a social evil” and should be considered as suicide while proponents of the practice say that the right to life also includes the right to not live.