THE Allahabad High Court on Friday held that Muezzin could recite ‘Azan’ from minarets of the Mosques by human voice without using any amplifying device.
It also directed the administration not to cause hindrance in the same on the pretext of the Guidelines to contain the pandemicCovid19, unless such guidelines are being violated.
The key relief sought in the petitions was that the Muslims in the Districts Ghazipur and Farrukhabad may be permitted to recite Azan through “Muezzin”, by using sound-amplifying devices. Petitioners had contended that the restrictions imposed by the administration are wholly arbitrary and unconstitutional since they did not, in any way, violate the guidelines issued for the containment of the pandemic.
A division bench of Justices Shashi Kant Gupta and Ajit Kumar also held that ‘Azan may be an essential and integral part of Islam but the recitation of Azan through loudspeakers or other sound-amplifying devices cannot be said to be an integral part of the religion, warranting protection of the fundamental right enshrined under Article 25 of the Constitution of India, which is even otherwise subject to public order, morality or health and to other provisions of part III of the Constitution of India.
“Thus, under no circumstances, sound-amplifying devices can be permitted to be used between 10.00 p.m. to 6.00 a.m. by the district administrations”, the court said.
The court also observed “No one has got the right to make other persons captive listeners. One cannot disturb others’ basic human rights and fundamental rights. Use of loudspeakers can cause hearing loss, disturbance of sleep, interference with communication, annoyance etc. and other diseases.
“Right to sleep is not only a fundamental right but it is to be conceded to be a basic human right”, it said.
The court said the petitioners failed to bring on record or even plead that they sought any such permission for the use of sound-amplifying devices, for a recital of Azan from their respective mosques and, therefore, their use without such permission would be illegal and cannot be accorded approval by the Court.
The court, however, directed that in case any such application is filed before the concerned authorities that may be dealt with in accordance with law including Noise Pollution Rules.
It also ordered that the copy of the judgment be sent to Chief Secretary and to all District Magistrates to ensure its compliance.
Afzal Ansari, Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha), Ghazipur, senior advocate S. Wasim A. Qadri and senior advocate Salman Khursheed had sent letter petitions to the Allahabad HC to permit the recitation of Azan in Ghazipur and Farrukhabad and their districts respectively.
Petitioners had contended that Prophet Muhammad introduced Azan. It was recited by a person from the mosque in a loud voice but by the passage of time, it was felt that a system was required to be introduced to invite the Believers in Islam to the congregational prayers by reciting Azan five times a day through a sound amplifying instrument since on account of increase in population, it was not possible for the Azan to reach all believers of Islam.
According to the petitioners, therefore, reciting of Azan through loudspeakers five times a day is part of religious rights guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution of India. Any restriction or prohibition made with regard to recitation of Azan through loudspeakers would have to be declared unconstitutional.
The state government, on the hand, submitted that Azan is a call for the congregation to offer prayers at the Mosque and is therefore in violation of the Guidelines for containing the pandemic. It added religious activity is being carried out at any religious places and Temple, Mosque, Church, Gurudwara, etc., in District Ghazipur, are using no loudspeakers for any religious purpose.
Counsel for the state also referred to rule 5 of The Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 (in short “Noise Pollution Rules”) which states that a loudspeaker or a public address system shall not be used except after obtaining written permission from the authority.