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Noise pollution relaxation: court reserves orders

Legal Correspondent

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday reserved its orders on petitions challenging the Constitutional validity of a Rule empowering the States to allow use of loudspeakers till midnight on festivals and religious occasions for 15 days in a year.

A Bench of the Chief Justice R.C. Lahoti and Justice Ashok Bhan heard Solicitor General G.E. Vahanvati for the Centre and counsel for forum, the Prevention of Environment and Sound Pollution and some of the States.

The forum had questioned the validity of Rule 5 of the Noise Pollution (Control and Regulation) Rules as amended in 2002 and the Kerala High Court had dismissed the petition. A special leave petition against this judgment was filed in the apex court.

On October 3, it was brought to the notice of the Bench that since the validity of the Rule had been upheld, the States would be within their rights to relax the ban for 15 days in a year. The Gujarat Government, which had moved an application on the eve of Navratri, had pointed out that though the said Rules and the amendment found a mention in the apex court judgment, the validity of the same was neither considered nor struck down. It was argued that the July 18 apex court order, imposing a blanket ban on use of loudspeakers between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. had taken way the right granted to the States under the amended Rule. Accordingly, the Bench decided to re-hear the matter insofar as the validity of the Rule was concerned.

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