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

17th November 2021 : The Karnataka High Court 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 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 p.m. and 6 a.m. Likewise, use of mics 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 2 and 4-wheelers, which are not in accordance with the Motor Vehicle Act. “Sound pollution is caused by altered vehicles and night clubs are no exception. Concerned authorities must act in this direction”, the Bench said.

Accordingly, the High 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. The Court also noted – “The state authorities shall also take into consideration the operation of all such night clubs and organisations which are operating in violation of the Noise Pollution Rules 2000. The action taken report shall be submitted on the next date of hearing.”

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