The Karnataka High Court (HC) on Tuesday, 23 August, said that playing the Azaan (Islamic call to prayer) on loudspeakers does not violate the fundamental rights of people belonging to other faiths. Hence, the court refused to order mosques to stop playing the Azaan on loudspeakers.
The court, however, directed authorities to implement “noise pollution rules” in connection to loudspeakers and file a compliance report.
A division bench headed by acting Karnataka HC Chief Justice Alok Aradhe heard a public interest litigation (PIL) by Bengaluru resident Manjunath S Halawar.
Halawar's plea stated that the “calling for Azaan/adan is an essential religious practice of Muslims, however the contents of the Azaan/adan are hurting the believers of other religious states.”
In its order, the HC said:
“Article 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India embodies the principle of toleration which is the characteristic of the Indian civilisation. Article 25(1) of the Constitution confers the fundamental rights on persons to freely profess, practice and propagate their own religion.”
Not an Absolute Right, Can be Subject to Restrictions
The court added that the right, however, is not absolute but rather is subject to restrictions on grounds of public order, morality, health, as well as other provisions in Part III of the Indian Constitution.
The court observed that the “contention that the contents of Azaan violate the fundamental right guaranteed to the petitioner as well the persons of other faith cannot be accepted.”
It further directed authorities to ensure that loudspeakers, public addresses, sound producing instruments, and other music instruments “not be permitted to be used above the permissible decibel during the night between 10 pm to 6 am.”
Another division bench of the Karnataka HC on 17 June had directed authorities to carry out drives to “prevent the misuse of loudspeakers and public address systems.”
The high court now directed the officials to “file compliance report before this court within a period of eight weeks”.
(With inputs from PTI.)