Singer Sonu Nigam on Monday kicked off a storm with a series of tweets in which he asked why he should be woken up by Azaan in the morning. He tweeted, "God bless everyone. I am not a Muslim and I have to be woken up by Azaan in the morning. When will this forced religiousness end in India."
Amidst this raging debate, it would be interesting to look into guidelines issued by both the Supreme Court as well as the Bombay High Court. In the year 2005, the Supreme Court had issued guidelines which included restrictions on the use of loudspeakers in public spaces at night to bring down the decibel levels.
The Bench headed by the then Chief Justice of India, R C Lahoti banned the use of loudspeakers between 2200 and 0600 hours in public spaces. The court also issued guidelines to the police on how the same should be implemented.
The Bombay HC verdict:
In 2014, the Bombay HC had dealt with a similar case. The court was hearing a petition filed by Santosh Pachalag against the illegal use of loudspeakers by Mosques in his area. Following an RTI plea, it was found that 45 out of the 49 Mosques in a particular area did not have permission to use loudspeakers. The court directed the police to remove the illegal loudspeakers.
The rules state that the decibel levels need to be under check. The Noise Pollution Control and Regulation Rules of 2000 state that loudspeakers used must follow the prescribed decibel levels. It is 50 db during the day and 40 db during the night. For a silence zone it is at 55 db during the day and 45 db at night.
With regard to the Azaan, the norm is that it should last not more than two or three minutes. However in some areas, there have been complaints of the Azaan lasting longer and this has been a result of competition.