Houses of God should be kept peaceful and noise free as it is rightly said that God is not deaf
- Kerala High Court. 2000 (1) KLT 566

The Law

To control the increasing ambient noise level in public places from various sources, inter alia , industrial activity, construction activity, generator sets, loud speakers, public address system, music systems, vehicular horns, and other mechanical devices Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 has been enacted by the Government of India in exercise of its powers conferred under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.


The authority for the implementation of the said Noise Rules is the District Magistrate, Police Commissioner and other officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. The help of the State Pollution Control Board's are sought to measure the noise level and violators are prosecuted by the said Police Officials before the concerned Magistrate Court.

Usage in Religious Institutions

Religious places are considered as silent zones, wherein the maximum permissible sound is 50 dB(A)/ Leq during day time and 40 dB(A)/ Leq during night. The above restriction applies to all institutions around 100 metres. What is 50 dB ?. The sound which is necessary for communication in between two persons. A loudspeaker which is capable of sound producing for communication within a hall will alone will be possible . The practice of installing loudspeaker to produce noise outside the said premises within 100 metres may amount to violation

The State Government has been empowered to grant permission to use loudspeaker on or during any cultural or religious festive occasion of limited duration not exceeding fifteen days in all during the calendar year. But such relaxation is not permissible between 10.00.P.M and 12 midnight. The State Government has to identify the festivals which are prominent in their State and issue a notification in this regarding relaxing the provisions of Noise Rules. This is a onetime affair for the entire State and not for each religious institution for different periods

The Noise Law is the law that is blatantly violated by many including under the guise of religious festivals A question has been raised before the Supreme Court of India (SC) by a religious body can it be said that using of the loud speakers is the exercise of the religious freedom enshrined under the Constitution of India . SC has held that no religion prescribed that prayers should be performed by distributing the peace of others nor does it preach that they should be through voice-amplifiers or beating of drums . In the name of religion nobody can be permitted to add to noise pollution or violate noise pollution norms. Even if there be religious practice to use voice amplifiers, it should not adversely affect rights of others including that of being nor disturbed in their activities. Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 should be followed.

SC has issued sweeping direction to control the noise generated from fire crackers, loudspeakers, vehicular noise, etc. Court also stressed the need for education in this regard in text books. SC has issued sweeping direction to control the noise generated from fire crackers, loudspeakers, vehicular noise, etc. Court also stressed the need for education in this regard in text books.

More Cases

Kerala HC has also held that singing of devotional songs by religious institutions should be inconformity with the rules. Whatever be the justification for playing devolution songs in the early morning and at dusk or at any time it has to be in conformity with the rules that are in force. Repetition and regular play of even excellent music, may turn out to be offensive, and disturbing , depending upon the attitude of those who are obliged to receive the music per force. In the matter of loudspeakers, because of the statutory rules, the uses are obliged to respect the feelings of others.

It has re-iterated by the Kerala HC that no use of loudspeaker or a public address system can be permitted beyond 12 'O Clock in the night even on a religious or cultural occasion. The power to relax in the rigor of sub-rule (2) is available to the State Government only in respect of a cultural or religious occasion of a limited duration not exceeding 15 days and it is in respect of such a cultural or religious occasion the Government has power to relax the limitation embedded in sub-rule (2) against the use of loud speaker or public address system during night.

Madras HC had the occasion to consider the use of loudspeaker in a temple. HC held that rule of law is more than anything else requires that all laws as enacted by Parliament and State Legislatures be faithfully executed by officials, that orders of Courts be obeyed; that individuals wishing to enforce the law should have reasonable access to the Courts; that no person should be condemned unheard, and that power should not be arbitrarily exercised.

Even though Rules have been framed, no steps have been taken by the State Governments to identify zones. Kerala HC has issued directions the State government to take necessary steps to identify the zones and generally to fulfill all the requirements of the said Rule. The authority 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 court observed.

While so the Kerala Government issued a circular to the effect that amplifiers could be used during night between 10 at night and 6 in the morning within the compound of an institution. The notice also says that it must be an institution that is existing or created permanently for any religious, charitable or other purposes like cultural, educational and so on. What is meant by "closed premises" in Rule 5 of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules is a matter that has to be understood in the context of the objects to be achieved by the Rules, Kerala High Court clarified. The Court clarified that any circular or press release issued by the Government can be understood only consistent with the relevant provisions of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 as subsequently amended.

Meanwhile a lot of religious organizations have challenged the same judgment stating that they are engaged in the business of letting out loudspeakers and their right to do business has been infringed. Kerala HC repelling the contention upheld its earlier decision. Kerala Government has issued a notification notifying the Executive Magistrates, Commissioners of Police and Deputy Superintendent as officers for enforcing the Noise Rules.

The bursting of fire crackers during festivals is a problem in India. Supreme Court has clarified that the restriction on bursting of fire crackers is only between 10.00. PM and 6.A.M.

Nuisance caused to the lawyer's office by motor mechanics doing denting painting works using big iron hammers came to the notice of the Delhi HC . The vehicle was seized. On the assurance given by the Municipal Corporation that encroachment had been removed the matter was closed.

While so the rule was amended subsequently empowering the State Government to grant permission to the use of loudspeakers or public address system during night hours and during cultural or religious occasion on certain specified conditions is legal and valid. Question of giving any notice or invite objection did not arise. This was challenged before the Kerala HC. But the court justified the amendment.

While interpreting the provisions of Motor Vehicle Rules, Kerala HC has held that private operators have no legal right to use air horns . They have to operate vehicles only with the horns as specified by law.

Even prior to the introduction of the above Rules, courts had the occasion to consider issues on noise pollution. Kerala HC has held that standards regarding noise prescribed by Govt. of India may be enforced strictly in its letter and spirit. Noise code regulating all aspects of noise pollution.

The right to use a loudspeaker is not a fundamental right in itself, Kerala HC held. Sound pollution is an accepted danger, and indiscriminate use of loud speakers cannot be permitted. Every freedom has its frontiers. It is liable to be clipped, on grounds of public order, morality and decency. Disaffection, sedition, riots, etc. will be valid grounds for restraint. There is no fundamental right to use loudspeakers.

Under Art.21 of the Constitution, the citizens have a right of a decent environment and they have a right to live peacefully ,right to sleep at night and to have a right to leisure which are all necessary ingredients of the right to life guaranteed under Art. 21 of the Constitution. Principle of judicial activisms confers power upon the court to be active and not remain inactive for the purpose of protecting rights, duties and obligations of the people. The above observation was by the full bench of the Calcutta High Court while deciding an issue as to whether the prohibition of manufacturing of noise polluting fireworks is valid .

For fireworks, the noise code as well as the conditions laid down by the Explosive Rules is to be strictly followed, Kerala HC held. The court directed the State Government not to grant licenses and to prevent the existing holders of licenses from manufacturing explosives which are prohibited - Prohibited explosives are explosive consisting of or containing sulpher or sulpheret in admixture with chlorate of potassium or any other chlorate. Gundus/shells which produces high level of noises and fireworks whose noise level exceeding 125 dB after explosion banned, the court held.

Calcutta HC has held that use of electronic and/or air horn instead of bulb horn creates noise pollution and it has adverse effect on public health. Sudden blowing of such horn by Transport vehicles are producing rude shock in the human system and is acknowledged to have serious effect on various aspects of human life including blood pressure, mental and nerve system, the court observed while allowing the writ petition.

Central Motor Vehicles Rules restrains the use of air horns in motor vehicles. While challenging the action the court held that the Police officials are justified in initiating prosecution against stage carriage operators. The police and Transport authorities has been directed to ensure that effective and appropriate action is taken forthwith to abate noise pollution that is being caused by use of air horns. No vehicle shall be permitted to use air horns. Strict compliance shall be ensured and necessary instructions shall be issued by the Government to its officers in this regard, the court observed.

Prior to the coming into force of the Noise Rules, the restrictions on usage of Microphone and Loudspeaker at the time of giving Azan in Mosques was permitted. But the Calcutta HC has held that "Azan" is not a form of propagation but it is an essential and integral part of religion to meet at the prayer from a call being made through Azan. Traditionally and according to the religious order, Azan is to be given by the Imam or the person in charge of the Mosques through their own voice, this is sanctioned under the religious order.