The Bombay High Court today reserved its order on a bunch of PILs raising concern over nuisance created by organisers of religious festivals with regard to noise pollution. The PILs, filed by Mahesh Bedekar and others, also challenged erection of pandals (makeshift structures) on the streets and footpaths. The order was reserved by a bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka after the Centre concluded its argument today. The Centre argued that loudspeakers should not be allowed in silence zones.
The Maharashtra government had earlier submitted that Noise Pollution Rules framed in 2000 would have to be interpreted harmoniously, especially 5 and 6, which deal with written permission to use loudspeakers or public address system in a public place within the permitted decibel limits. This restriction is applicable to areas within silence zones. However, this restriction would not be applicable to theatres or cinema halls or any closed premises though use of loudspeakers in such areas requires a licence, government pleader Abhinandan Vagyani had told the court. If this rule is interpreted to mean that legislature intended to completely ban the loudspeaker or the public address system in a silence zone, whether in a closed place or in an open area, then it would lead to a situation that all cinema halls within the silence zone would have to close down, Vagyani had argued.
On the last occasion, Vagyani said the state had placed an order to procure 1,843 noise meters and 50 per cent of this equipment was to be purchased by July-end and the rest in August. During an earlier hearing, the high court, while citing a Supreme Court judgement, had observed that the fundamental right of practising or professing religion did not extend to “any and every place”. It had said that while the civic bodies can grant permission for construction of temporary pandals during festivals like ‘Ganpati’ or ‘Navratri’, these structures should not be erected on public roads and pavements.
The high court had observed in March last year that every citizen has a fundamental right to silence and to live in peace and comfort and the same cannot be disturbed by organisers celebrating various religious festivals.