Is the use of loud speakers during religious functions legal?
Information obtained through the use of the Right to Information (RTI) Act revealed that 45 out of the 49 mosques in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai area did not have the requisite permission for loudspeakers. Using the data, a PIL was filed by Navi Mumbai resident Santosh Pachalag in the High Court challenging the illegal use of loudspeakers by mosques in Navi Mumbai. The petitioner argued that the mosques are located in silence zones, which also house schools and hospitals. These loud speakers exceed the permissible levels of sound prescribed by the Noise Pollution (Control and Regulations) Rules 2000 and the petitioner prayed for their removal.
Hearing the PIL, a division bench of Justices V M Kanade and P D Kode of Bombay high court said that unauthorized loudspeakers must be confiscated irrespective of whether they were installed for Ganeshotsav, Navratri or in mosques. The bench asked the state to find out if the mosques have taken necessary approval and file an affidavit on whether all mosques in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai that use loudspeakers have sought permission for them. The bench further directed that if necessary permission has not been not obtained, the police should take adequate steps to remove these loudspeakers.
The bench observed that festivals like Ganeshotsav and Navratri can get noisy. Justice Kanade said that they are a source of continuous noise pollution and it is impossible to sleep during Ganeshotsav, particularly its last five days. The judges made a call for a citizens’ initiative against noise pollution.