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Goa Court orders to stop using loudspeakers for Azan

Covid-19 have changed the lifestyle of each and every individual. Those who wanted holidays to spend time with families are permanently at home. Those who wanted relaxing at their work place are enjoying working at home. Students who wanted to use mobile phones and laptops are forced to attend classes through these devices. However, with great relief comes higher difficulty level. Concentration is one of the issues which is difficult to achieve while working at home. There are numerous things which may disturb the concentration leading to lack of productive work. However, a software engineer from Goa got a different kind of problem while Work From Home for his company.

Varun Priolkar is a Software Engineer works with a Multinational Company. His work relates to IT world. IT world is the least affected sector during Covid-19 and have rather gone up due to more usage of internet services. Varun Priolkar like most of the other IT professional is working from home since the pandemic started last year. In It sector, everything works on codes which requires extra skill and concentration. However, Varun was facing difficulty to concentrate and couldn’t perform well in his job. The reason was the noise of loudspeakers coming five times a day from nearby Mosques including Noorani Masjid, Safa Masjid, Sunni Shahi Madina Masjid, Masjid at Panditwada. These mosques belong to different sects of Islam including Shia and Sunni however the nature of disturbance is same. As per Islamic custom, Islamic call to prayer which is best known as Azan is to be spoken from the Mosques and those professing Islam have to attend it. If the attendance is not possible, they’ve to listen to it. The problem started when Mosques in India started using loudspeakers for the purpose of Azan. Due to loudspeakers, everyone is forced to hear the call to prayer irrespective of their religion.

In a democratic country like India, one shouldn’t be forced to listen to a call for prayer of a specific religion. Even more problematic is the fact that the prayer talks about the supremacy of Allah which is non existential figure for all those who aren’t Muslims. Varun was getting disturbed in his work due to this uninvited noise that too regularly and on daily basis. To save his job and mental peace, he went to Goa Bench of Bombay High Court and moved a Petition against the usage of the loudspeakers by the Mosques for Azan citing his fundamental right as per Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules 2000. High Court issued writ directing the Additional Collector to address the complaint of Varun and settle the issue within three months.

Acting on the orders of High Court, a complaint case was registered before the court of Additional District Magistrate who after listening to the complaint of Varun and seeking response from the Mosques have passed order against the Mosques directing them not to use loudspeakers/public address system/any other sound producing instruments without prior permission from the concerned authority. Court further ordered that if a permission is sought, concerned authority may deal with it in accordance with Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules 2000. It further stated that even if the permission is granted for usage of such devices, the sound shall not exceed 10dB(A) above the ambient sound standard or 75dB(A) whichever is lower. Police has also been directed to keep a regular watch on the said Mosques and ensure that they comply with the said order.

India is a secular and democratic country. One has no right to create disturbance in the life of others through the means of loudspeakers or other means on a regular basis. Exception could be understood on special occasions like festivals however this shouldn’t become norm. Today it’s a software engineer, tomorrow it could be a doctor or a judge. This order is a strict message to Muslim community to stop usage of loudspeakers for Azan.

 

Author: Adv. Shashank Shekhar Jha
Legal Editor, GoaChronicle.com

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