Allahabad High Court: A Division Bench of Pankaj Mithal and Vipin Chandra Dixit, JJ., while addressing a petition preferred by the people of the Muslim religion in regard to the use of amplifiers and loudspeakers as it is an essential part of their religious practice, held that,

“It is true that one can practice, profess and propagate religion as guaranteed under Article 25(1) of the Constitution of India but the said right is not an absolute right. The right under Article 25 is subject to the wider Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution and thus both of them have to be read together and construed harmoniously.”

In the present case, the petitioner 1 had moved an application before the authority concerned for license/permission to use of amplifiers and loudspeakers on two Mosques which were specified by them for the purposes of Azaan for Namaaz. The permission was granted for a specified period of time with certain conditions.

Further, the said pieces of equipment were removed from the mosque for the purpose of repairs but when they were being re-fixed, the local area police stopped the petitioner from reinstalling the same.

Petitioner was refused from using the equipments at the mosque not only for the inherent reason for noise pollution but in order to maintain peace and tranquillity in the area.

It is also to be noted that, Rule 5 (1) of Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 also puts restrictions on the use of loudspeakers/public address systems and sound-producing instruments.

Permission to use sound pieces of equipment on the mosque concerned was for a limited period of time and the same was denied for extension/renewal on account of law and order situation.

Court also cited the case of Church of God (Full Gospel) in India v. K.K.R. Majestic Colony Welfare Assn., (2000) 7 SCC 282, wherein it was held that,

“…the rights under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India are subject to public order, morality and health. No religion prescribes or preaches that prayers are required to be performed through voice amplifiers or by the beating of drums and if there is such practice, it should not adversely affect the rights of the others including that of not being disturbed.”

Supreme Court decision in Noise Pollution (V), IN RE, (2005) 8 SCC 796 was also referred, wherein it was stated that,

“…fundamental right of a person under Article 19 (1) of the Constitution of India of freedom of speech and expression is not absolute and no one can claim fundamental right to create noise by amplifying sound of his speech with the help of loudspeakers as every citizen has a fundamental right to live in peace, comfort and quietness of his house.”

Thus, in view of the above, the writ petition was dismissed. [Masroor Ahmad v. State of U.P., 2020 SCC OnLine All 43, decided on 09-01-2020]

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