Supreme Court seeks ‘field data’ on PIL to ban loudspeakers at places of worship

Supreme Court seeks ‘field data’ on PIL to ban loudspeakers at places of worship

The Supreme Court in a public interest litigation filed by journalist and social activist Vineet Narain has asked the petitioner to furnish “field data” supporting the claims made in the petition. The PIL is seeking a ban on loudspeakers at every place of worship of all religions, claiming the loudspeakers not only cause noise pollution but also communal riots.

The bench comprising Chief Justice RM Lodha and Justices Kurian Joseph and RF Marian asked the petitioner on Monday, "What is the permissible decibel limit? You (petitioner) want a writ of mandamus to ban it, tell us, how does it affect the right to life of a common citizen? "You will have to show how the use of loudspeakers affects the public order”

The court was then informed that no record of noise pollution created by loudspeakers is maintained by authorities. The Court responded by saying "You need an actionable field data."

The petition states that the loudspeakers at such places threaten "the very safety of the peace loving citizens of this country". The petition also highlights the point that loudspeakers were invented only in 1961 yet Prophet Mohammed, Hindu saints, Guru Nanak Dev and Christian Missionaries preached religion without the help of loudspeakers. Also, in several Islamic countries, use of loudspeakers in not allowed in mosques.

The petition also states "As is evident, loudspeakers installed at religious places emanate sound much higher than the prescribed limits and are used irresponsibly a majority of times. That the issue, relating to loudspeakers installed at religious places of different religions, has for decades given way to communal disharmony, riots and murders of innocents. This has brought disrepute to our nation for a very long time.”

Lawyer Vivek Narayan, appearing for the petitioner said that there are several Supreme Court judgements directing reduction of noise pollution level of loudspeakers in every place, yet no government ever bothers to abide by the apex court orders.