Church of God [Full Gospel] in India v. KKR Majestic Colony Welfare Association AIR 2000 SC 2773

Church of God [Full Gospel] in India v. KKR Majestic Colony Welfare Association AIR 2000 SC 2773  /Noise pollution V Right to religion—Constitution Article 25 and 26

The appellant, a minority institution was in the practice of using musical instruments such as drum set, triple ganga, guitar etc. The respondent welfare Association filed a Criminal O.P before the High Court of Madras for a direction to the authorities [Superintendent of Police] to take action on the basis of the letter issued by the Joint Chief Environment Engineer of the TMPCB. In High Court it was contended by the Church that the petition was filed with an oblique motive in order to prevent a religious minority institution from pursuing its religious activities and the Court cannot issue any directions to prevent the church from practicing its religious beliefs. The High Court balanced the act by giving directions to the religious minority institution to bring down the noise level by keeping the speakers at a lower level. Aggrieved by the said order the respondents appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court held that India is a country with many religious beliefs and faith, numerous communities or sects of people reside in the same area and locality. Each reside in a sense of harmony an d peace. The Constitution has given religious institutions fundamental right to practice, profess and propagate. But does right include the right to add noise pollution on the ground of religion? Whether beating of drums or reciting of prayers by use of microphones and loudspeakers so as to disturb the peace or tranquility of neighborhood should be permitted? The Court held that ‘undisputedly no religion prescribed that prayers should be performed by disturbing the peace of other nor does it preach that they should be through voice-amplifiers or beating of drums. In our view, in a civilized society in the name of religion, activities which disturb old, infirm persons, students or children having their sleep in the early hours or during day time or other persons carrying on other activities cannot be permitted..’. The Court while adjudicating the appeal observed that in the present case, the contention with regard to the right under Art. 25 or Art. 26 of the Constitution which are subject to ‘public order, morality and health’ are not required to be dealt with in detail mainly religion prescribes or preaches that prayers are required to be performed through voice amplifiers or by beating of drums. In any case, if there is such practice, it should not adversely affect the rights of others including that of being not disturbed in their activities.