Jaipur: The Rajasthan High Court on Monday banned 'Santhara' or a religious fast to death practised by followers of Jainism, declaring it unconstitutional.

A division bench of Chief Justice Sunil Ambawani and Justice Virendra Singh Siradhana pronounced the verdict while hearing a public interest litigation filed by Nikhil Soni.

Soni, who had filed the PIL in 2006, told IANS that the court observed that Santhara is violation of article 21 of the constitution and directed the state to stop it.

"If someone practices it, then an FIR should be filed against the person under the Indian Penal Code's section 309 - punishment for attempting suicide - and police should undertake investigation into it," Soni told IANS.

He said that anyone provoking or supporting them should also be booked under IPC's section 306, relating to abetment of suicide.

Meanwhile, the Jain community reacted strongly to the verdict. Bane Chand Jain, a trader, in a statement, termed the judgement"unfortunate".

"No one can provoke or pressurize someone to opt for Santhara. I have not seen it so far in my memory," he said.