Under what law are loudspeakers allowed in mosques? HC asks Karnataka govt

The court noted that while mosques said that they were following directions of the Wakf Board, the board did not have powers to give permission.
The Karnataka High Court as seen during the day
The Karnataka High Court as seen during the day
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The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday, November 16, asked the state government to explain the provisions of the law under which loudspeakers and public address systems have been allowed in mosques, and what action is being taken to restrict their use. The division bench, headed by Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, was hearing a petition filed by one Girish Bharadhwaj regarding sound pollution caused by mosques in Bengaluru’s Thanisandra. He had pleaded for effective implementation of a law on sound pollution.

Counsel for the petitioner Sridhar Prabhu submitted that no legal action is initiated against sound pollution by the Pollution Control Board (PCB) and other government authorities. However, the Wakf board, though not being a legal entity, has issued a circular to use low decibel loudspeakers in mosques. "This is not a correct measure. According to Sound Pollution Control Guidelines 2000, no speakers are allowed between 10 pm and 6 am. Likewise, use of mic is allowed only for 15 days during public festivals annually. But, no guidelines are followed," he argued.

The bench said that if the prevailing situation is taken into consideration, the government seems to have not initiated any action in this direction. “Mosques are informing the court that they are using mics as per the directions of the Wakf board. However, the board doesn't have any powers to give permission, it must make it clear under what legal provision the Wakf Board is issuing circulars,” the bench said.

The High Court bench also took suo motu cognisance of sound pollution caused by modified silencers attached to two-and four-wheelers, which are not in accordance with the Motor Vehicle Act, LiveLaw reported. “Sound pollution is caused by altered vehicles and night clubs are no exception. Concerned authorities must act in this direction,” the bench said. It added,  “They should initiate action against night clubs, vehicles and submit a report to the court.”

The court also took suo moto cognisance of the noise pollution created by modified/amplified silencers fitted in two wheelers and four wheelers which are not as per the standard norms prescribed under the Motor Vehicle Act. The bench orally observed, "If you stay near any main road you will realise how difficult it is to stay near the main road because of these vehicles."

Accordingly, the court directed the state government and the police to inform what steps are being taken to curb such menace and directed that a drive should be launched to identify such vehicles and action be taken. Further, the court also noted that, "The state authorities shall also take into consideration the operation of all such night clubs and organizations which are operating in violation of the Noise Pollution Rules, 2000. The action taken report shall be submitted on the next date of hearing."

With IANS inputs

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