BY- KOSHA DOSHI
As per 2007 WHO report, almost 6 per cent of people in India suffer from hearing loss due to prolonged exposure to noise above 60 dB leading to irreversible NIHL. The permissible limits being 75 dB for day time and 70 dB for night time in industrial areas, similarly for commercial areas 65 dB and 55dB and for residential areas 55dB and 45dB which is been crossed every day and now. The SC put a stay in the HC order to Blanket Ban on DJ Service to deal with the issue.
Over a period of time due to increase in the use of loudspeakers and DJ services for religious practices, marriage ceremonies and other functions the court continued to receive quite a few complaints regarding violation of standardized noise levels. On January 2nd a petition was filed in the Allahabad High Court wherein the District administration in Prayagraj had installed LCDs amplifiers in residential areas. The noise continued from midnight to around 4 am in the morning causing disturbance to all the nearby residents. The petition was filed by an 85-year-old whose health was deteriorating due to the noise pollution along with a child from the 12th standard who was unable to study due to the continuous loud noise.
The High Court bench hearing this petition comprised of Justice Pradeep Kumar Singh Baghel and Pankaj Bhatia issued certain directions. An appeal to this decision was made stating that the High Court should not have passed a general direction regarding the ban on the basis of a PIL but on a writ petition of two people and restrictive in respect to them.
The recent appeal took place with Vikash Tomar and others as petitioners and Sushil Chandra Srivastava as the respondent. The petitioners were people providing DJ services on several functions. The appeal was based on the High Court’s order which put a Blanket Ban on DJ Service all over the state. The appeal stated that it was violating Article 19 denying the petitioners a livelihood and rendered them as unemployed as they were banned to play even at minimum levels.
Parashar represented 13 members of the Bundelkhand Sound and DJ Association while the apex court sought a reply from the State Government on October 14th, 2019. The Special Leave Petition was heard by a bench consisting of Justice UU Lalit and Justice Vineet Saran providing interim relief to the petitioners challenging the ban. The petitioners complained of indiscriminate use of loudspeaker and that the High Court had been mistaken in passing a general order for the entire state. The appeal was keeping in mind the impugned order passed by HC to control noise pollution on 20th August 2019.
Question of Law-
In the High Court decision, the Noise Pollution Rules, 2000 were referred to proving that the noise emitted by DJ Service was unpleasant and obnoxious and there should be Blanket Ban on them. Even if played at minimum levels it was beyond the Schedule of Rules, 2000. It further stated that the DJ consists of amplifiers and joint sound emission which produced noise above 1000 dB. Noise emission at such a level was a treat to human health, children, animals, senior citizens and patients in hospitals.
The fact regarding 1860 loudspeakers being used without a license came into light during the petition at the High Court. The High Court provided a toll-free number for people to come forward and freely lodge a complaint against noise pollution instruments. Provisions of SMS, Whatsapp message and email were also provided keeping the confidentiality aspect intact. In case a loudspeaker, public address system, DJ, musical instrument or a sound amplifier was played beyond the permissible limit, the citizens could come forth and use the facility of a toll-free number.
The Allahabad High Court had citied in 2005 the Noise Pollution (v) to deliver a number of judgments. A 10 pm- 6 am a restriction on the use of noise emitting sources was prohibited unless in cases of emergencies. Further a restriction of 5 dB (A) on the privately-owned sound system was put keeping in mind the particular air quality standard of a place. The High Court decision if violated followed sanctions of imprisonment up to 5 years which may be accompanied by a fine of 1 lakh rupees.
The Supreme Court stated that the people had a right to live without noise pollution covered under the ambit of Article 21. The appeal consisted of a violation of Article 25 and restriction on the religious rights provided to each individual. The petitioners wanting to be professional DJ players were granted permission to play if the application is in accordance with the law despite the decision of the High Court. The direction (iii) of the order was aggrieved.
The appeal rested on violation of Article 19, 21 and 25 along with High Court’s order on general applicability to the entire state causing loss of livelihood and leading to unemployment. The Supreme Court stated that permission would be granted but only if the application is in accordance with the law and under the ambit of standard noise levels. The final disposal of the main matter is to be heard on 16th December 2019.