IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Civil Appeal No. 3735 of 2005
Decided On: 28.10.2005
Appellants: Forum, Prevention of Envn. and Sound Pollution
Respondent: Union of India (UOI) and Anr.
The present writ petition was filed initially by the petitioner in the High Court of Kerala. After the dismissal of the same by the Kerala High Court, the aggrieved petitioner has appealed it before Supreme Court of India.
In the present writ petition the petitioner questioned the validity of sub-rule (3) to Rule 5 of Noise Pollution (Region and Control) Rule 2000 which is inserted through amendment to the Rule in 2002.
Impugned sub-rule (3) permitted the State Government to relate the applicability of sub-rule (2) to the Rule 5 which restrict the use of a loudspeaker or a public address system at night between 10 p.m. to 6. a.m.
|Rule 5. Restrictions on the use of loud speakers/public address system:-
(1) A loudspeaker or a public address system shall not be used except after obtaining written permission from the authority.
(2) A loudspeaker or a public address system shall not be used at night (between 10.00 p.m. to 6.00 a.m.) except in closed premises for communication within, e.g. auditoria, conference rooms, community halls and banquet halls.
(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in Sub- rule (2), the State Government may, subject to such terms and conditions as are necessary to reduce noise pollution, permit use of loud speakers or public address systems during night hours (between 10.00 p.m. to 12.00 midnight) on or during any cultural or religious festive occasion of a limited duration not exceeding fifteen days in all during a calendar year.”
Petitioner herein contended that the impugned sub-rule (3) of granting exemption of applying sub-rule (2) between 10 p.m. to 12 midnight is violative of Art. 21 of the Constitution. Pointing out the judgment given by the Supreme Court in earlier cases he argued that freedom from noise pollution is a part of the right to life under Article 21. Noise interferes with the fundamental right of the citizens to live in peace and to protect themselves against forced audience. Thus, sub-rule (3) to Rule 5 thus runs counter to the law laid down by the court.
While the opponent on the other hand contended that insertion of the impugned sub-rule (3) which allows state government to permit use of loud speakers or public address system during night hours between 10.00 p.m. to 12.00 midnight on or during any cultural or religious festive occasion is a reasonable restriction placed in public interest. The rule provides relaxation for only 2 hours and that too for a maximum of 15 days in all during a calendar year confined to cultural or religious occasions. Moreover since the power has been conferred on the state government by the Central Government it cannot further be delegated. Further the state Government can exercise its powers under sub-rule 3 only in the interest of the entire state population.
After hearing to both the parties the court came to following decision ;
“Having Look into the diversity of cultures and religions in India, we think that a limited power of exemption from the operation of the Noise Rules granted by the Central Government in exercise of its statutory power cannot be held to be unreasonable. The power to grant exemption is conferred on the State Government. It cannot be further delegated. The power shall be exercised by reference to the State as a unit and not by reference to districts, so as to specify different dates for different districts. It can be reasonably expected that the State Government would exercise the power with due care and caution and in public interest. Further under the impugned Rule there is no scope provided to the state government to widened the exemption either by increasing the number of days or by increasing the duration beyond two hours.
Further the court also made a note that the State Government should generally specify in advance, the number and particulars of the days on which such exemption will be operative, in order to avoid arbitrariness in the exercise of power. The exemption, when granted, shall not apply to silence zone areas.
With above observations the court dismissed the petition and upheld the H.C. order.