Is there a religion specific right to die?

I have just woken up and am looking through today's Times of India, Kolkata Edition. On the first page, bottom left corner is a news titled "Jain monk embraces after-life". The first paragraph of this news item reads:

"An 88-year old Jain monk breathed his last on Monday afternoon after embracing the voluntary fast to death called Santhara, sanctioned by Jain scriptures. Munisree Yasawai Sagarji Maharaj of the Digambar community took neither food nor water for 51 days.

In a rare honour to Yasawai Sagarji, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation reserved the wooden pyre of Kashi Mitra burning ghat from 2am to 10am on Tuesday for his cremation. In fact Jain leaders had applied to KMC the day the monk started his fast to reserve the pyre for a month. The KMC agreed. There is no precedence for this in the KMC's history"

So here is the situation, the Municipal Corporation was intimated about a person fasting unto death in its jurisdiction. It does nothing to stop the fast; to the contrary, it makes arrangements for a grand funeral and waits for the fast to succeed.

It has been just a day since the Supreme Court reiterated its stance on euthanesia and right to die, with a minor modification that permits passive euthanasia in exceptional circumstances. Even in such circumstances, passive euthanasia is to be conducted only after the approval of the High Court and after several riders have been met. 

So what granted this Munishree this unique right to die which no other citizen seems to be vested with? His religious belief? If religious belief on this matter was a source of right to die, then should the same right not be accorded to Jehovah's witnesses who refuse medical intervention on the ground of religious belief? Is there something that differentiates Jehovah's witnesses from this Munisree? If not the acts of KMC are not only bad administrative action, but probably also amounts to abetment of suicide under Section 309, IPC. 

1 comments: (+add yours?)

Biswarup Mukherjee said...
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