Delhi High Court places restriction on loudspeakers at religious places

It says such practice violates right to be left alone, a part of right to privacy laid down by the Supreme Court

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The Delhi High Court has issued a notice requiring mosques, mandirs and other religious places in Delhi to restrict the decibel level of loudspeakers as well as restricting the height of the loudspeakers at only eight feet from the ground.

The Delhi High Court today (25 Oct 2017) issued a notice to the Central Government in a plea seeking removal of loudspeakers from religious places on the ground that such practice violates the right to be left alone which is a part of the right to privacy laid down by the Supreme Court.

The petition filed by one Sanjjiiv Kkumar was heard by the Bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar, reports Live Law Network.

The Delhi High Court issued the notice to the Union of India on a public interest litigation for removal of loudspeakers from all religious structures on the ground that their use is an encroachment on a person’s “right to be left alone and spatial control” and thus violates the newly recognised fundamental right to privacy.

A bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal issued the notice on the PIL filed by social activist Sanjjiiv Kkumaar.

Sanjjiiv, in his PIL, traced the advent of all religions in India to say, “Hinduism is 4,000 years old, Jainism is 2,600 years old, Buddhism is 2,500 years old, Christianity is 2,000 years old, Islam is 1,400 years old, Sikhism is 500 years old and on another hand, Moving coil current loudspeakers are not even 100 years old. Thus, it’s beyond doubt, and as facts and truth speaks for itself per se, loudspeakers were never a part of any religion”.

“As loudspeakers is not part of/intrinsic to any of the religions as all religions are 4,000 to 500 years old whereas loudspeaker came into existence in 1924, that is less than 100 years and hence, banning them will not violate Article 25 or 26 of the Constitution of India,” he said.

The report added that the petition also quoted from the Supreme Court’s verdict in Forum, Prevention of Envn. and Sound Pollution as: “No religion ever says to force the unwilling to listen to expressions of religious beliefs.”

“This observation of Hon’ble Apex Court is of utmost importance as what Supreme Court says, Loudspeakers do exactly opposite of the same and hence violate fundamental rights of citizens of India,” the PIL said.

During the hearing, the Pradhan of Jai Mata Mandir and the Imam of Gosiya Mosque in the Sunder Nagri area offered an undertaking on their willingness to abide by the court’s directions, reports India Today.

“Our biggest challenge was to handle this sensitive matter in an amicable way. I am glad that the state (police) instead of imposing anything on the respondent mosque and temple invited them to court for a mutual settlement,” the report quoted counsel for the government Anjana Gosain.

Justice Sanghi asked the assistant commissioner of police (traffic) to ensure that the guidelines on decibel limits under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, were strictly followed in the area. The court asked for compliance report by March 10. The court was hearing a petition by Madhav Roy of Ekta Vihar, who sought respite from the noise pollution.

Explaining its directions, the court said the loudspeakers should be placed in such a way that the sound waves are focused at the centre of the place of worship. This will ensure that only the devotees interested in listening to the discourses get to hear these and sound doesn’t go outside, the India Today report added.

“I direct that no religious establishment or institution or place of worship in Ekta Vihar or Sunder Nagri shall install loudspeakers at a high point or close to the pinnacle of the religious place of worship,” Justice Sanghi said.

 

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