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SC upholds law on loudspeakers
October 28, 2005 15:13 IST
The Supreme Court on Friday allowed state governments to permit use of loudspeakers till midnight on festive occasions for 15 days a year.
A bench comprising Chief Justice R C Lahoti and Justice Ashok Bhan thereby upheld the Constitutional validity of a statutory rule allowing states to relax sound pollution norms including use of loudspeakers till midnight on festive and religious occasions for 15 nights in a year.
The order came on an appeal by states contending that the July 18 apex court order, imposing a blanket ban on use of loudspeakers between 10 PM and 6 AM, had taken away the right granted to them under the Noise Pollution (Control and Regulation) Rules 2000.
However, the Supreme Court said that the power to relax the ban could not be delegated by the state governments to other authorities.
The Gujarat government, which had moved an application just ahead of the Navratras, had pointed out that the rules permitted state governments to determine the 15 days on which relaxation would be allowed.
Though initially there was no such provision, a clause to this effect was added to the 2000 Rules vide a notification in October 2002, it pointed out.
Senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi, appearing for Gujarat government, had submitted that though the said rules and the amendment found a mention in the apex court judgement, the validity of the same was neither considered nor struck down.
The Maharashtra government had also moved a similar application ahead of the Ganesh festival.
It had pointed out that keeping in mind the religious sentiments, it had passed a resolution earmarking 15 days in a year for the 2-hour relaxation allowed as per the rule.
In its application, the state government submitted that a total ban on the use of loudspeakers, drums and amplifiers would disturb the sentiments of the people, which could lead to police-public confrontation as there was no societal consensus on the issue.
The state government had further submitted that it would be difficult to implement a total ban as ''confrontation cannot be ruled out thereby leading to law and order situations.' Further, it was not possible to check sound levels at all places with a decibel meter, it added.
Solicitor General G E Vahanvati, appearing for the Centre, supported the relaxation on religious occasions.
He said that the court could pass an order strictly restricting the relaxation to 15 days a year and direct that the applications for seeking the two-hour relaxation should be scrutinised by a committee.
Earlier, the court on October 3 had said that as it had not dealt with the specific rule, the case had to be examined afresh to determine its validity.
However, it had made it clear that the rule would continue to be in force leaving it open for the states to relax the ban till the matter was decided.