The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday refused to entertain a public interest litigation seeking to ban the use of loudspeakers during azaan, the Muslim call to prayer that rings out from mosques five times a day, Bar and Bench reported.
The court was hearing a clutch of petitions related to the issue of loudspeakers being used by mosques during prayers, including one filed by a doctor named Dharmendra Prajapati. One of the petitioners is also a Bajrang Dal leader Shaktisinh Zala, according to Mint.
A division bench of Chief Justice Sunita Agarwal and Justice Aniruddha Mayee said that this practice, which lasts about 10 minutes through the day, does not contribute to noise pollution and also remarked that loud music is also played in temples during bhajans and aartis.
“The morning aarti with those drums and music starts early in the morning,” the chief justice said, according to Live Law. “That doesn’t cause noise to anyone? Can you say that the noise of the ghanta and ghadiyal [bells] remains in the temple premises only? It doesn’t percolate out of the premises?”
The bench described the pleas before it as “wholly misconceived” since they failed to show how the azaan, which uses only the human voice, contributes to high decibel levels that can harm public health. Noise is measured in decibel units.
The chief justice remarked that noise pollution is a scientific issue. He advised the petitioners’ lawyers to use decibel readings and prove scientifically their allegation that azaan contributes to noise pollution.
“In 10 minutes, how many decibels go up?,” the judges questioned, according to Bar and Bench. “And how much noise pollution does it cause? You argue in this scientific aspect of measuring decibels during azaan and then say if any pollution is caused. But you aren’t arguing on this aspect at all.”
When one of the petitioner’s lawyers asserted that the azaan does exceed prescribed decibel limits, the chief justice refused to entertain the petition, according to Live Law.
“[Azaan] is a faith and practice going on for years together and it is a moment of only 5-10 minutes,” he remarked.