There is no provision for the state government to either install or remove loudspeakers, Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil said on Monday after an all-party meeting on the issue and asked the Centre to formulate guidelines since the order on loudspeakers had been given by the Supreme Court.
The Bharatiya Janata Party boycotted the all-party meeting and sought to know whether the state home minister has any authority to decide on the issue if the chief minister is not present at the meeting. The BJP has demanded that the Supreme Court's guidelines (on loudspeakers) be followed strictly.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sen chief Raj Thackeray too didn't attend the meeting.
Walse Patil's statement comes days ahead of MNS chief Raj Thackeray's ultimatum to the state government to remove loudspeakers atop mosques ends on May 3.
With this, the tussle between the MVA government and the MNS and BJP over the issue of loudspeakers and the recital of Hanuman Chalisa is likely to intensify further with senior BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis saying that if the government wants to use the ways of Hitler, "we will prefer struggle over dialogue. This has become our mindset, so we have decided to boycott the meeting".
He was referring to the arrest of Independent MP Navneet Rana and her MLA husband Ravi Rana following protests by Shivsainiks against their call to recite Hanuman Chalisa outside CM Uddhav Thackeray's residence in Mumbai on April 23.
Talking to reporters after the all-party meeting, Walse Patil said the issue of azaan was also discussed. He said if a stand is taken against one community, then the consequences of the same on other communities should also be considered.
”When a stand is taken (against) a particular community then what are its consequences on other communities, religious events (should also be considered)..because there are bhajans, kirtans, aartis in villages,” he said.
Walse Patil said the all-party meeting decided that the government should take all steps to maintain law and order in the state and work accordingly.
The Supreme Court had given a decision on the use (regulations) of loudspeakers in 2005. Subsequently, other courts have also given rulings in this regard.
Walse Patil said the Maharashtra government between 2015 and 17 came out with some GRs (government resolutions) and circulars on the use of loudspeakers and the permission for their usage including the timings and decibel limits. Based on it, loudspeakers are used in the state.
”There is no provision that the government can decide on installing or removing loudspeakers. Those who have installed loudspeakers, those who use it, will have to take care of the regulation,” he said.
”Regarding loudspeakers, there was an opinion (in the meeting) that since the directive about the loudspeaker has come from the Supreme Court, it applies to the entire country. If the Centre takes a decision on this at a national level and is implemented then there will be uniformity on this in all states,” the home minister said.
If necessary, a delegation comprising leaders of all parties from the state should meet top leaders of the Centre, Walse Patil said.
State Tourism Minister and Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray termed it a ”non-political” issue which was being made ”political”.
Speaking to reporters, Fadnavis said the BJP's stand on the issue is very clear that the Supreme Court's guidelines on the usage of mikes must be followed strictly.
Giving a stern message, Walse Patil said police are expected to take action against those who violate the law.
Fadnavis also said that earlier we would stay awake the entire Navratra, play garba, play bhajans.
"Be it Ganesh Chaturthi, there would be events till midnight. The moment the Supreme Court barred the use of loudspeakers from 10 pm, we strictly followed it. We only use it on 15 days on which relaxation is allowed," he added.