[Loudspeaker ban] Gujarat High Court issues notice to state govt. on PIL seeking statewide ban on loudspeakers in mosques

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In a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking a statewide ban on the use of loudspeakers in mosques, the Gujarat High Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Gujarat government.

The bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice Ashutosh J. Shastri passed the order on a plea moved by a doctor, Dharmendra Vishnubhai Prajapati, who runs his clinic in the state's Gandhinagar district, alleging that people living nearby mosques in his locality are subjected to great inconvenience and disturbance due to this non-essential practice.

Issuing notice, the Court has made it returnable for March 10. 

Claiming that he had already made a written complaint in this regard to the state authorities but to no avail, Prajapati relied upon the May 2020 ruling of the Allahabad High Court for his prayer.

The Allahabad High Court in Afzal Ansari and others v. State of UP and others has held that Azan is certainly an essential and integral part of Islam but use of microphone and loud-speakers is not.

To further strengthen his arguments, in his plea, Prajapati had highlighted limitations on one's right to profess his/her religion.

He had stated, "In fact, the right contained under Article 25 of the Constitution of India is subject to public order, morality, health and Part-III of the Constitution of India, which has been violated because of the use of the loudspeakers."

Prajapati had also cited the rules pertaining to noise pollution in support of his demand. He had asserted that "as per Rule 5 of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, a loudspeaker or a public address system shall not be used except after obtaining written permission from the competent authority."

"However in the facts of the case, admittedly, there is no valid written permission obtained by the persons of the Muslim community while using loudspeakers while offering prayers. Hence, some restrictions are required to be imposed upon them," Prajapati had further alleged.

Importantly, Prajapati had also mentioned that mosques are currently using loudspeakers for prayers despite the fact that due to Covid-19 protocols, many of the namaz offerees are not reaching mosques.

Therefore alleging that "the sound of the loudspeaker is very hectic and intolerable for the public at large, which causes many severe mental illnesses, physical problems to old aged persons, small children and it also affects the work efficiency for the public at large; in short, is not good for health," Prajapati had asked the Court to step in. 

Cause Title: Dharmendra Vishnubhai Prajapati vs The State of Gujarat & Ors