Ban discriminatory, risk prone, disturbing and anti-Hindu loudspeakers in mosques.
Why Government should ban the nonsense use of loudspeakers in mosques and any illicit use of it in other religious and social programmes.
~ Upananda Brahmachari.
It goes without saying that the Government should impose a strict ban the use of loudspeakers during any religious functions violating the existing laws and making health hazards and utter discomfort by Mosque prayer calls (5 times a day on regular basis, made of any other group of Hindus (i.e the bhajan and kirtans) and the use of high volume speakers during marriage functions, sports, mela etc. unreasonably. But the question of loudspeakers in mosques is a bit more persistent as the marriages and bhajan-jagrans don’t happen on daily basis.
The unpleasant noise pollution of Mosque is repeatedly questioned as because a mosque blares loudspeaker 5 times every day. Same is not the case with temples or churches. Masjids as well as temples or in fact, anybody (even private bodies) can make any amount of Noise in India. There is no absolute and uniformed legality to ban the noise pollution in India. Different states have their separate regulatory acts and laws and obviously the political indulgence to violate such provisions. The reason why Mosques (or temples or anybody) are allowed such noise pollution because we have spineless governments in different states and a nascent counterpart in the center, which in the name of religious freedom don’t even care about our privacy, peace, health, safety and security in general. And most of the populace too do support such decisions because for them anything is permissible, if it is even remotely religious and that has no divine sanction also.
Really, the time considerations of Azaan (Adhaan) are very bad. One Muslim young man writes in a internet social forum that, “first lets take the time into consideration…though the loudspeakers do one azaan (call for prayer) for barely 2 or 3 minutes, the timing is quite bad.. the fazr (morning) azaan is at 5 a.m(approximately)…now all of us are not early sleepers…i sleep between 12a.m to 1a.m(force of habit)…and i am forcibly awakened by the sound of azaan at 5 a.m…needless to say it ruins my entire day…now when i try to catch my sleep in the afternoon there is an azaan at 1 p.m, one at 4 p.m, one at 6 and one at 8 p.m (all approximate)…so there goes my afternoon nap…and if u have your exams (as i had my boards) the problem is intensified to a whole new level…besides i have 3 mosques (and one in construction) in a 200m radius around my house so its no longer 3 minutes but an annoying 9 minutes (the azaans rarely overlap)..plus sound from mosques that are a bit farther does manage to trickle in during the wee hours…and i am a young fellow (or so do i consider myself)…so i can only imagine the plight of the sick and the elderly..” Exactly the Azaan from Mosques create problem for all staying in different stages of life and occupation.
Is a prayer call through hi-fi sound system or in loud-speakers are too essential from a Mosque? Certainly not as it has no such mandate from any Islamic scriptures nor it has any historical legacy as such. We did not find common use of loud speaker in mosques for the purpose of Azaan (Adhaan) even after the 100 years of invention of loudspeakers (in 1876). It is 1977-1980, when Indian mosques started hectic use of loud speakers in large scale and certainly not before that. And the numbers of horns in the mosques minarets are gradually increasing day by day. If anyone thinks that the prospective Namazis (persons involved in Namaaz) are gradually losing their hearing capability and being deaf or it is case of sustainable hearing loss of Allah himself, so more and more horns are needed, that’s wrong. The loud-speakers of Mosques are really the ready tool of Jihad for spreading the message of it and to provoke the Muslims to start and make war against non Muslims in riot times.
Late night noise pollution has become a serious problem across India even though there is a Supreme Court, High Court Ban and central government ban on it.
The Calcutta high court on November, 21, 1996 banned the use of loudspeakers at all places of worship, irrespective of religion. A division bench of Justice Bhagabati Prasad Benerjee and Justice A.K. Chakraborty in their ruling stated that as India is a secular state the ban would cover all religions and steps to control noise pollution should cover all religious communities. The ban which minimised noise levels in the city during the durga-pujas and Kalipujas would also cover gurudwaras and Mosques all over West Bengal.
On December 25, 1996 in the evening Milad-un-nabi (religious programme) was held in the Masjid campus near Gate No.1, in Dum Dum Airport area of Calcutta when loudspeakers were used. Officials of the State Pollution Control Board arrived there and found that the sound of the mike-system was 85 decibel (65 decibel was the limit prescribed by the Court). The matter was reported to the High Court which issued a contempt of court notice against the Masjid committee for violating its order. On 31-1-1997 the court found them guilty and imposed a penalty of Rs.2500/- to be deposited with the board. To be absolutely fair it should be added that nearly two dozen Durgapuja, Kalipuja and Jagadhatripuja Committee of Calcutta, Howrah, South -24 Parganas and Hooghly districts also were charged with the contempt of court for violating the noise pollution order and fined Rs.1000/- each.
Mr. Jyoti Basu, the then Chief Minister of West Bengal, held a meeting with religious leaders of the Muslim, Sikh and Christian communities at writers Buildings in Calcutta on March 6, 1997. Moulana Mohammad Shabbir of Nakhoda Mosque, Moulana Abdul Quyum, Imam of Solana Masjid and Moulana Masudi, member of the State Waqf Board attended.
The then Chief Minister informed them of the Calcutta High Court ban order and requested them to abide by it. The imams told Mr. Basu their problems in abiding by his request. While accepting the spirit of the judgement, they said that if they don’t use loudspeakers, the message of Azaan (call to prayer) will not reach the Muslims. If necessary, they would move the Supreme Court against the order, but would not tolerate any interference in Mosque affairs.
Though no Muslim forum reached the Supreme Court in this particular case, the then Left Front Govt. ignored the matter in the course of time. On the other hand Govt. imposed more restrictions upon Hindu Puja committees to get loud-speaker permission and even realized fines from many Hindu puja committees for the violation o noise pollution regulatory acts. This discrimination still persists.
In 2005, the Supreme court in ‘Re: Noise Pollution – Implementation of the Laws for Restricting Use of Loudspeakers and High Volume Producing Sound Systems’ case held that the right to life included the right to listen or not to listen any noise and no one could take shelter of the Indian constitution’s Art. 19 (1)(a) (freedom of expression) for creating noise. While stressing on the noise pollution created during night, the court defined ‘night’ as an intervening period between 10 pm to 6 am and imposed a complete ban on playing loud music or making any type of noise. [As reported in Reported in AIR 2005 SC 3136 : 2005 AIR SCW 3525 : (2005)6 SCC 109 vide: http://www.elaw.in/noise/noiseinre.htm ]
The central government, in 2009, brought a certain amendment in the Central Acts and Rules relating to environmental pollution showing some concern toward the rampant violation of noise pollution laws. Under the central rules prohibiting noise pollution, a penal provision of imprisonment for a period of five years or fine extending upto Rs. one lakh was introduced. The amendment made the offence of noise pollution non-bailable.
Recently, the central government while complying with the Supreme court’s directive after a lapse of four years made a provision in central acts prohibiting late night noise pollution by amplifiers, loudspeakers, music system etc. But there is still scant knowledge of such a ban among common people and even the law enforcement machinery of states has miserably failed to implement the provisions of the Central Act as well as the local Noise Control Act.
Most of the states are either having no such law or their noise control acts are still running inconsistent with the provisions of the Central Act and therefore noise pollution is still a bailable offence. Surprisingly, there is no enactment in any state of the country to effectively check late night noise pollution despite the 2005 directive of the Supreme court.
Although, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Orissa have a specific legislation on noise pollution but their law is inconsistent with the central act. Where the Madhya Pradesh Control of Music and Noises Act, 1951 does not define as to what type of noise can be prohibited at night, the penalty is imprisonment for just one month and fine not exceeding Rs. 100. Similarly in Bihar and Orissa a penalty provision ranging from Rs. 100 to 250 has been made which makes noise pollution only a petty offence. Though, the Uttar Pradesh Nagar Mahapalika (Prohibition of Noise and Regulation of Loudspeakers) Rules, 1987 has restricted use of loudspeakers from 8 am to 10 pm but the punishment for violation at night is only a meager fine.
The Rajasthan Noises Control Act, 1963, though implemented, has left ‘loud noise’ and ‘prohibited noises’ undefined. Also, the law has not been updated in accordance with the latest amendment in the central act.
In its 2005 judgment, the Supreme Court took a note of the fact that the law relating to pollution and especially noise pollution was existing merely on statute books in the country. In its judgment imposing a ban on the use of firecrackers and making loud noise at ‘night’, the Supreme Court has held,”The issue of noise pollution in India has not been taken so far with that seriousness as it ought to have been. There is a lack of will on the part of the executive to implement the laws.”
THE NOISE POLLUTION (REGULATION AND CONTROL) RULES, 2000 clearly states that “Wheareas the increasing ambient noise levels in public places from various sources, inter-alia, industrial activity, construction activity, generator sets, loud speakers, public address terms, music systems, vehicular horns and other mechanical devices have mysterious effects on human health and the psychological well being of the people; it is considered necessary to regulate and control noise producing and venerating sources with the objective of maintaining the ambient air quality standards in respect of noise.” [vide: http://www.lawsindia.com/Industrial%20Law/K092.htm].
And this rules has clear restrictions in section 5, that,
“5. Restrictions on the use of loud speakers/public address system. –
(l) A loudspeaker or a public address system shall not be used except after obtaining written permission from the authority. -
(2) A loud speaker or a public address system shall not be used at night (between 10.00 p.m. to 6.00 a.m.) except in closed premises for communication within, e.g. auditoria, conference rooms, conference rooms, community halls and banquet halls.”
In that case no Mosques have taken any permission from any administrative or police authority to use mosque loud-speakers and the early morning prayer call at fazr violates the restriction of timings. And obviously all the Mosques violates the permissible sound level of 65 dB(A) Leq in day time (6.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m.) and 55 dB(A) Leq in night time (10.00 p.m. to 6.00 a.m.) in residential areas all along.
The Kerala High Court had, in a order in the recent past (Feb, 2013), asked the police to take strict action against the indiscriminate use of loudspeakers for religious purposes. “No religion prescribes performing prayers through amplifiers and the use of microphones and loudspeakers by religious denominations are to be within the limits prescribed under the Environmental Laws and Police Acts,” a division bench comprising Chief Justice Manjula Chelloor and Justice K. Vinod Chandran said in their decision on a public interest litigation (PIL) appeal. There are so many orders by the honorable courts, but it is utter lack of the authority to honor it.
So, the loud-speakers used in Mosques can be withdrawn for violating existing rules and regulations in force along with the breech of peace and causing health and occupational hazards in many ways. The violations in any form anywhere other than mosques must be restricted in same and non-discriminatory manner. Government should ban the use of loudspeakers in mosques and other illicit use of it any other religious programmes without delay.
Related:: Hindus need to unite for removing hooters from mosques ! – Shiv Sena MLA Rajesh Kshirsagar: HJS Site.
Shun loudspeakers at mosques, says theologians’ body: The Hindu.
Rastriya Hindu Andolana staged a protest in front of the DC office here on May 25: Mangalorean .com.