Asia & Australia

August 26, 2017

August 2016 Directions On Silence Zones "Continue To Operate With All Force": Bombay HC

Bombay HC

On August 23, a bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Riyaz Chagla of the Bombay high court said that it cannot accept the state government's stand that there are no silence zones in Mumbai after the Centre's amendment to the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules 2000.

The high court said that its August 2016 directions on silence zones "continue to operate with all force".

"We are not accepting your stand that there are no silence zones," the bench said.

The bench further said that they also cannot accept the state's submission that the August 2016 judgment, in which it held that areas not less than 100 metres around all hospitals, educational places and courts are deemed silence zones, cannot be enforced.

"Today, the judgment stands unless it is modified. All directions stand, including the declaration on silence zones," it said, adding that the judgment can be modified only by way of a review. The bench was examining whether the directions regarding silence zones can be implemented after the August 10, 2017 amendment. Advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni argued that due to this amendment, the direction on deemed silence zones is rendered "ineffective" and does not operate. "When the rules say the state has to declare silence zones, can the court declare silence zones?" he asked. The Bombay high court said on Wednesday that its August 2016 directions on silence zones "continue to operate with all force", the bench said.

In this regard, the bench was examining whether the directions on silence zones can be implemented after the August 10, 2017, amendment. Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni said that the state will file a comprehensive affidavit for modification of the high court's order.

Advocate Birendra Saraf, appearing for a petitioner, Awaaz Foundation, said that according to the government, "today there are no silence zones". Justice Oka responded by saying, "So long as the judgment is there, they will have to implement it."

The bench further said that the state could have taken a "fair stand" that it will abide by the high court's direction and not grant permission for loudspeakers in silence zones till it comes out with a notification declaring silence zones.

Justice Oka said, "Today, you are saying there are no silence zones. Why is the state in a hurry to issue licences for loudspeakers? Today, no state can create a situation where there is no silence zone so let people suffer. Let there be noise pollution. No state can do that."

The bench further added that "You cannot allow a situation to be created where licences are allowed for loudspeakers next to schools, courts and hospitals."

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