IN THE HIGH COURT OF KERALA, AT ERNAKULAM
The Honourable Mr. Justice P.K.Balasubramanyan
The Honourable Mr. Justice C.N.Ramachandran Nair
Thursday, the 4th October, 2001/12th Asvina, 1923.
O.P.No.20982 of 2001-W
[W.A.No...3125...of 2001 of the High Court of Kerala]
Forum for the Prevention of Environmental and Sound Pollution , Kerala Vs. State of Kerala and others
P.B.SAHASRANAMAN, K.JAGADEESH & T.S.Harikumar, Advocates for the Petitioner
P.Jayashakar, Government Pleader & N.N.Sugunapalan , Standing Counsel for Pollution Control Board.
This Writ Appeal having come up for admission on 4-10-2001, along with O.P.No.18197 of 2001-N, the Court on the same day delivered the following:-
1. The Writ Appeal arises from the decision of a learned Single Judge in O.P.No.20982 of 2001. The appellant is the petitioner in the Original Petition. He approached this Court with the Original Petition praying for the issue of a writ of certiorari to quash a circular letter dated 22-7-2000 issued by the Deputy Inspector General of Police pursuance to the directions of this court in O.P.Nos.11016 and 26161 of 1998 directing the concerned agencies to curb noise pollution by enforcing the legal provisions which were then in force. In that circular letter, the Deputy Inspector General of Police had directed that public address system and loud speakers should not be used at night between 9.00 P.M. and 6.00 A.M. except in closed premises, that loud speakers should be directed at the audience and not away from the audience, that loud speakers should not be allowed for advertisement and commercial activities and that the permitted strength of the power of the amplifier should be just adequate to cover the audience. According to the appellant, these conditions imposed by the Deputy Inspector General of Police cannot have any efficacy in view of the bringing into force of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000. According to the appellant, going by the Rules, use of loud speakers for commercial purposes could not be totally banned or prohibited. The learned Single Judge held that there was nothing arbitrary in the conditions imposed by the Deputy Inspector General of Police in the circular letter. The learned Judge also found that even though the circular letter had been issued prior to the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, the conditions do not in any way militate against the said Rules. Learned Judge also took note of the fact that the circular letter was issued pursuant to the directions issued by this Court. Thus, it was held that the appellant was not entitled to any relief. It is this decision of the learned Single Judge that is challenged by the appellant in the Writ Appeal.
2. The Forum for the Prevention of Environmental and Sound Pollution, Kerala, represented by its Secretary has come forward with O.P.18197 of 2001 complaining that the police authorities and the Kerala State Pollution Control Board are not implementing the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) rules, 2000 and are not taking action even in cases of blatant violation of the said Rules and praying for the issue of a direction to the State and the Kerala State Pollution Control Board to take appropriate action against the erring officers who are refusing to implement and enforce the Rules. It is emphasised by the petitioner that there was an amendment to Rule 2(c) of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 in the matter of definition of "authority" constituted under that Rules and specifying that the authority shall not be below the rank of the Deputy Superintendent of Police. According to the petitioner, police authorities below the rank of the Deputy Superintendent of Police have no authority or right to grant any permission for use of loud speakers after the coming into force of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 and the amendment brought about by S.O.No.1046(E) dated 22-11-2000.
3. We may notice here that the Supreme Court in the decision in Church of God v. K.K.R.Majestic Colony Welfare Association (2000 (3) KLT 651 (SC) has clearly indicated that the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 require to be enforced. It is, therefore, clear that the Rules have to be enforced by the State Government, its officers, the authority as constituted by the Rules and the Pollution Control Board.
4. A look at the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 shows that the State Government has to identify and categorise the various zones as contemplated by Rule 3 of the said Rules. Rule 4(1) of the Rules provides that the noise levels in any area/zone shall not exceed the ambient air quality standards in respect of noise as specified in the schedule and sub-rule (2) of Rule 4 provides that the authority shall be responsible for the enforcement of noise pollution control measures and the due compliance of the ambinent air quality standards in respect of noise. Rule 5 places restriction on the use of loud speakers/public address system. A written permission from the authority is a condition precedent for use of the loud speaker. It shall not be used between 10.00 P.M. and 6.00 A.M. except in closed premises for the purposes referred to in Rule 5(2) of the rules. the consequences of violation in silence zone/area is provided in Rule 6. On the scheme of the rules, it is clear that the State Governmnet, residential or silence areas/zones for the purpose of implementation of noise standards for different areas. The State Govenrment has also to take measures for abatement of noise including noise emanating from vehicular movements and ensure that the existing noise levels do not exceed the ambient air quality standards specified under the Rules. ther are other aspects also dealt with by Rule 3.
5. On hearing counsel and the learned Government Pleader, it is seen that the State Government have not categorised the areas/zones as contemplated by Rule 3(2) of the Rules and have also not taken any steps in terms of Rule 3(3) of the Rules. The mere issue of a Circular by the Director, STED and Ex-officio Additional Secretary to Government enclosing therewith the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 does not satisfy the requirements of Rule 3 of the Rules. The duties cast on the State by Rule 3 have also to be performed by the Government. In that situation, we have no hesitation in directing the first respondent-State to carry out the mandate of Rule 3 of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 and also perform the duties and discharge the responsibilities placed on it in terms of Rules 4 and 4 of the Rules. The prayer in that behalf made in O.P.18197 of 2001 has, therefore, to be allowed.
6. Now reverting to the Writ Appeal, so long as the Rules -- Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 -- is not implemented by the State Government by identifying the various zones in terms of Rule 3 of the Rules, no licence can be granted to the appellant for using a loud speaker as sought for by him. This is becauase, without identifying the zone concerned and without ensuring that the noise level does not exceed the levels specified in the schedule, no person can be permitted to use the loud speaker. Unless and until the requirements of Rule 3 of the Rules are satisfied, we see no reason why the directions annexure A2 issued by the Deputy Inspector general of Police shall not be allowed to operate and be implemented. But, we think that it may be necessary to fix a time limit within which the State shall perform its obligations under Section 3 of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000. We think that a time of six months can be granted for this purpose. The application made by the appellant for permission can be considered only thereafter and it has to be considered by the authority as defined in the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 as amended.
7. We, therefore, dispose of the Writ Appeal and the Original Petition by directing the State of Kerala, the first respondent, to take necessary steps to identify the zones and generally to fulfil all the requirements of Rule 3 of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 within six months from this date. The defined authority under the rules will, thereafter, be entitled to consider the application for use of loud speakers and permit them strictly in terms of the said Rules and the identification of the zones. The State and the authorities under it, including the Pollution Control Board, will continue to enforce the directions issued by the Deputy Inspector General of Police in the circular dated 22-7-2000 until the required exercise under the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 is undertaken by the State Government.
It is a matter of serious concern that Environmental Protection laws are not properly implemented and/or enforced by the various authorities and officers of the State including the Pollution Control Board. The State Government is directed to ensure that it officers, the Local Authorities and the Pollution Control Board strictly implement the Environmental Protection laws, Rules, Regulations and notifications and to take strong action against those who do not implement them strictly and in consonance with the spirit of such laws.
C.N.RAMACHANDRAN NAIR, JUDGE.