The Uttarakhand High Court has modified a directive issued in its 2018 judgment setting maximum noise level for loudspeakers.
In the said judgment, the state was directed to to ensure that no loudspeaker or public address system shall be used by any person including religious bodies in Temples, Mosques and Gurudwaras without written permission of the authority even during day time, that too, by getting an undertaking that the noise level shall not exceed more than 5dB(A) peripheral noise level. This direction has been now modified to read thus (modified portion in bold letters):
The State Government is directed to ensure that no loudspeaker or public address system shall be used by any person including religious bodies in Temples, Mosques and Gurudwaras without written permission of the authority even during day time, that too, by getting an undertaking that the noise level shall not exceed by more than 5dB(A) peripheral noise level above the ambient noise standards specified for the area in which it is used at the boundaries of the private place".
The Court made this modification while considering an application filed under Sections 151 and 152 CPC read with Article 226 of the Constitution of India by a representative of all mutawallies of Waqfs of all mosques in the entire State of Uttarakhand.
Referring to the relevant provisions of Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 and the judgment, the bench comprising the Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice Lok Pal Singh observed:
"The Division Bench could not have intended that the noise level in a public place should not exceed 5dB(A), since what has been stipulated, both in the 2000 Rules and in the judgment of the Supreme Court, in Forum, Prevention of Environment & Sound Pollution, is that the peripheral noise level should not exceed 10dB(A)/5dB(A) above the ambient noise standards for the area (as prescribed in the schedule). The prescription, in Para 'i' of the order of the Division Bench, that the noise level should not exceed more than 5dB(A) is not to be found in any of the earlier parts of the said order of the Division Bench, or in the judgments of the Supreme Court referred to therein or in the 2000 Regulations which was relied upon by the Division Bench. It is evident, therefore, that the last words of Paragraph 'i' that "the noise level should not exceed more than 5dB(A) peripheral noise level" is an accidental error not intended by the Division Bench"
The Court also observed that the mere fact that an order was issued by the State Government, in compliance with the earlier order of the Division Bench, would not disable it from exercising its inherent powers under Section 152 CPC to correct an accidental error or omission in the order of the Division Bench provided, of course, it is satisfied that there has been an accidental slip or mistake in the order necessitating its correction.
The judgment also discusses the principles to be applied while considering an application under Section 152 CPC. It said:
There are two important principles on the basis of which Section 152 CPC has been enacted. The first, as noted above, is the maxim that an act of the Court shall prejudice no man. The other is that the Court has a duty to ensure that its records are true, and they represent the correct state of affairs. It is because these are considered to be some of the highest duties of Courts that, in Section 152 C.P.C, it has been provided that, even in the absence of any move on the part of the parties, the Court can, of its own motion, make the correction.
However, the bench refused to answer the issues whether the applicant can claim a fundamental right for loudspeakers to be used at Mosques and whether the recent order of the Allahabad High Court covers the field, and the validity or otherwise of the Government Order issued in compliance with the earlier order of the Division Bench, holding that these are all matters which are extraneous to proceedings under Section 152 CPC.
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