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Santhara ruling: Pained as a Jain, but govt won’t move SC, says Rajasthan home minister Gulab Chand Kataria

Says if Santhara was ‘suicide’, organ donation is ‘murder’.

Written by Mahim Pratap Singh | Jaipur |
August 14, 2015 12:00:21 am
gulab chand kataria, rajasthan home minister, rajasthan, vasundhara raje, santhara, santhara suicide, santhara ritual, india news Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria

Rajasthan home minister Gulab Chand Kataria has said that while he, as a Jain himself, was pained by the criminalisation of Santhara-the ritual of voluntarily embracing death-he would not comment on the propriety of either the high court judgment, or the practice, in his capacity as a minister in the state government.

Kataria also ruled out the Rajasthan government moving the Supreme Court against the High Court judgment criminalising Santhara and making it punishable under sections 306 and 309 of the IPC.

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“As a Jain, I find it unfortunate. We (members of the Jain community) will appeal against the decision. But the government does not have anything to do with it,” Kataria said.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Kataria said if Santhara was suicide, then organ donation was ‘murder’. “While a person is alive, you take away his organs for the benefit of others, without his explicit consent. So should that be punishable as murder under section 302?”

“The person who undertakes Santhara does it for himself, with full knowledge, and his decision does not affect anyone. It is totally personal,” said the minister.

Kataria said that like other members of the Jain community, he too was outraged by the HC order, but in his capacity as a minister, he would not have anything to do with the issue. “See, Santhara is not something new. It has been going on since the time of Mahavir Swami. When saints thought they had lived their lives and were free from desire, they would embrace Santhara,” Kataria said, adding, “It was an elaborate procedure. A high priest would examine the person and only then allow him to undertake the ritual. The Jain community across the country is pained by this decision and so am I, as a Jain. But as a minister, I am distant from the debate. I don’t know what Santhara is and hold no opinion for or against it, like any non-Jain would.”

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