Ban loudspeakers in public places, says Madras High Court

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Chennai: The Madras High Court on February 5 expressed anguish over complaints of the unbridled use of cone speakers, which have been banned, as well as the blaring noise of loudspeakers at religious institutions and public meetings. Both the Supreme Court and the High Court had, in the past, come down heavily on such practices.
Justice R. Mahadevan directed the State Public Secretary to issue a circular instructing all Collectors and their subordinate officials to ensure that the ban on cone speakers was enforced, and that loudspeakers did not exceed the noise limits prescribed under the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules of 2000.
Any violation of the statutory rules should be countered with appropriate legal action against the violators, apart from confiscating the sound amplifiers. Awareness campaigns should be conducted to educate the public about the ill-effects of cone speakers and the use of loud speakers beyond permissible limits, the judge said.
The orders were reserved in the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court last month and were delivered here. The Ashtalakshmi Nagar, Ashtalakshmi Nagar Extension and R.K. Puram Residents’ Welfare Association in Tiruchi had filed a petition against the use of cone speakers and as many as eight loudspeakers at a local church.
The judge recalled that Justice K.P. Sivasubramaniam of the Madras High Court had, in 2003, rightly cautioned religious enthusiasts and fundamentalists to practice their respective faiths in a cultured way, and not to resort to “aggressive, unfair or inhuman” methods of worship since “religion was not a trade requiring advertisement by amplifiers.”
“God, to whichever religion he belongs, is said to be present everywhere and does not require a blaring and deafening amplifier to hear the prayer of his devotees… Belief in religion is and should remain a private and personal affair,” Justice Sivasubramaniam had said.
“Even animals run away from noisy areas… Why should we, human beings, reduce ourselves to less than animals?” he asked.
Further, the Supreme Court had, in a 2005 judgment, stressed the need to equip government officials with audio meters to keep noise levels in check. The apex court had also made it clear that no one should beat a drum or tom-tom, blow a trumpet, beat or sound any instrument or use any sound amplifier between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., except during public emergencies.

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