Current Affairs Today - Current Affairs 2015

SC stays Rajasthan HC’s decision declaring ‘Santhara’ ritual illegal

The Supreme Court (SC) of India has stayed Rajasthan High Court’s order declaring Santhara, a Jain ritual of voluntary and systematic fasting to death illegal.

The stay order was given by SC Bench comprising Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy.

What is Santhara?

Santhara is a religious custom of Jain religion that embraces voluntary death in order to purge oneself of bad ‘karma’ and attain ‘moksha’. The practitioners of this custom take an oath to stop eating until they die of starvation. This oath is taken in consultation with a guru and follows the most detailed of procedures.

Background

Earlier in August 2015, Rajasthan High Court had banned the practice of Santhara by declaring it as a criminal offence and mentioning it as illegal in the eyes of law.

The High Court in its ruling had made this religious practice a punishable offence under section 306 (abetment of suicide) and Section 309 (attempt to commit suicide) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Constitutional Validity

  • Article 25: The Rajasthan High Court in its ruling had mentioned that as per Article 25, religious liberty and freedom is only limited to the scope of essential religious practices of particular religion. So practice of Santhara is not essential religious practice of Jainism.
  • Article 21: The Rajasthan High Court also mentioned that Protection of life and personal liberty does not include Right to die. So it is illegal from this point of view.

The ruling of High Court was based on public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocate and human rights activist Nikhil Soni to ban this centuries old Jain ritual claiming it as social evil and should be considered as suicide.

Jain Community’s Viewpoint

Jain community clearly mentioned that the practice of Santhara is an integral part of Jainism and has been mentioned in religious texts. It is also an intrinsic practice to a person’s ethical choice to live with dignity until death and not an exercise in trying to achieve an unnatural death.

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IS damages ancient Temple of Bel in Syria’s Palmyra

Islamic State (IS) militant group has destroyed part of historical Temple of Bel in the ancient site of Palmyra in Syria.

The ancient temple was dedicated to the Palmyrene gods and was one of the best preserved parts of the historical sites of Palmyra.

Key facts

  • The ancient site of Palmyra in ancient times was one of the most important cultural centres and now has monumental ruins of great ancient city.
  • The site boasts a number of monumental projects including more than thousand columns and more than 500 tombs.
  • The art and architecture of this city is blend of Greco-Roman techniques with combination of local traditions and Persian influences, dating back to the 1st and 2nd centuries.
  • The ancient city of Palmyra is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was a major tourist attraction of Syria before it descended into civil war.

Earlier in August 2015, IS militant group had destroyed the ancient Temple of Baalshamin in same region of Palmyra.

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Manipur assembly passes Protection of Manipur People Bill, 2015

Manipur Legislative Assembly has unanimously passed today the Protection of Manipur People Bill, 2015 along with other two amendment bills to protect indigenous people of state.

Other two bills are Manipur Shops and Establishments (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015 and Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2015.

Apart from these bills, the assembly also passed a resolution welcoming the Peace Accord signed between the Union Government and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN)-IM.

Background

Recently there was strong violent protest in the North Eastern State of Manipur over the issue of protection of indigenous people of state. The issue came into light after state assembly had passed the Manipur Regulation of Visitors, Tenant and Migrants Workers Bill, 2015 to protect the interest outsiders in the state. It should be noted that there is long standing demand for implementation of Inner Line Permit (ILP) system in the state.

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