The Bombay high court on Wednesday directed the police to remove loudspeakers from those mosques in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai that have not obtained required permissions for them from the authorities.
A division bench of Justices V M Kanade and P D Kode, while hearing a PIL, said that unauthorized loudspeakers must be confiscated irrespective of whether they were installed for “Ganeshotsav, Navratri or in mosques… irrespective of religion, caste or community”. It called on citizens to “come together” against noise pollution.
A recent RTI plea unearthed data that showed 45 of the 49 mosques in the area did not have the requisite permission for loudspeakers.
The PIL, filed by Navi Mumbai resident Santosh Pachalag earlier this year, raised the issue of “illegal use of loudspeakers” by mosques in Navi Mumbai. It claimed that, according to data obtained recently under the Right to Information Act, 45 of the 49 mosques (around 92%) in the area do not have permission for loudspeakers. It added that the mosques are located in silence zones, which house schools and hospitals, and that their loudspeakers surpass the decibel levels allowed under the Noise Pollution (Control and Regulations) Rules 2000.
The judges on Wednesday asked the state to find out if the mosques have taken necessary approval. “If they have not, what steps have you taken? This cannot go on,” said Justice Kanade.
Pachalag’s advocate D G Dhanure said the police can confiscate the loudspeakers if they are being used without proper approvals. He submitted that, according to RTI data, Ganpati and Navratri mandals in Thane had applied for permission to play loudspeakers.
The bench said that unauthorized loudspeakers must be confiscated in all cases, “whether Ganeshotsav or Navratri or mosques”. It observed that festivals like Ganeshotsav and Navratri can get noisy. “They are a source of continuous noise pollution. It is impossible to sleep during Ganeshotsav, particularly its last five days,” said Justice Kanade, adding that “patients and old people at home” are especially affected. The judges called for a citizens’ initiative against noise pollution.
The judges directed the state to file an affidavit on whether all mosques in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai that use loudspeakers have sought permission for them. “If necessary permission is not obtained, the police are directed to take adequate steps to removal these loudspeakers,” they noted in their order.