Ban on Azan from loudspeaker during lockdown is appropriate : Allahabad High Court

Azan from loudspeakers is not an essential part of Islam. When loudspeakers did not exist, Azan was still being recited.
Banning Azan from loudspeakers is not an infringement of freedom of

People feel that such an order should not be limited only during the lockdown, but should be made applicable in the entire country permanently.

Prayagraj (UP) – The Allahabad High Court has held that Azan (Call to ritual prayer in Islam) can be recited from the minarets of mosques by human voice only without using any amplifying device or loudspeaker. Pronouncing the judgement on 15th May, the Court also held that Azan may be an essential part of Islam but its recitation through a loudspeaker or other amplifying device cannot be said to be an integral part of the religion and warranting protection of the fundamental right enshrined under Article 25 of the Constitution (Right to religious freedom), which even otherwise is subject to public order, morality and health, and other provisions of the Constitution.

Disposing of a PIL filed by Ghazipur BSP MP Afzal Ansari and others, a Division Bench comprising Justice Shashi Kant Gupta and Justice Ajit Kumar observed, “Traditionally, and according to the religious order, Azan has to be recited by the Imam”. The Court directed the Allahabad High Court Registrar-General to forward a copy of the judgement to the UP Chief Secretary for onward circulation to all District Magistrates in the State to ensure compliance.

In the PIL, Ansari had requested the Court to direct the Ghazipur administration to permit the recitation of Azan by only one person from mosques as it does not violate the guidelines issued to contain Covid-19.

The State Government said in its counter-affidavit that since 24th March, when the lockdown was announced, no religious activity was being carried out at any religious place. Also, loudspeakers are not being used for any religious purpose by temples, mosques, gurudwaras, etc.

Aspects in the judgement

“It cannot be said that a citizen should be coerced to hear anything which he does not like or which he does not require since it amounts to taking away the fundamental right of the other person”, the Court further observed.

“Right to sleep is not only a fundamental right, but it is to be conceded a basic human right”, the Court observed.

When the loudspeakers did not exist, the Azan was still being recited and people used to gather for namaz. Therefore, banning Azan from being recited from loudspeakers cannot be an infringement of religious freedom as enshrined in Article 25 of the Constitution.

“Right to religion by no stretch of imagination ought to be practised, professed and propagated saying that a microphone has become an essential part of religion. No one has got the right to make other persons captive listeners. One cannot disturb others’ basic human rights and fundamental rights”, the Court observed.

Reactions of some Muslim religious leaders

Speaking on the judgement, Qazi Shafiq Ahmed Sharifi of Prayagraj said, “We are implementing the ban on loudspeakers imposed between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. right from the earlier days. (This is Goebbel’s technique – Speak a lie a hundred times and people will believe it sometime. The ban is being infringed upon by reciting Azan from loudspeakers in a loud voice all over the country and the Police and administration do not take any action against it. – Editor) The Court says there is no ban on Azan. We will study the judgement and take further decision”.

Syed Hassan Raza Zaidi, Imam-e-Juma, Shia Jama Masjid, said, “The Court said, ‘When the loudspeakers did not exist, the Azan was still being recited and the people used to gather for namaz’. I will say, many things did not exist in the past. Things which came into being after new technology developed are being used now. (The advent of new technology does not mean that these should be used to harass others or break rules. – Editor) Therefore, I request the Court to reconsider its judgement”.