"To disturb sleep would amount to torture:" Plea in Allahabad High Court to ban use of loudspeakers for religious recitation/call to prayer
In Uttar Pradesh, a plea has been filed with the Allahabad High Court to prohibit the use of sound amplification devices for religious recitation and calls to prayer in temples, mosques, and churches (Ashutosh Kumar Shukla v. State of UP). Ashutosh Kumar Shukla, the petitioner, said that the use of loudspeakers disturbs the sleep of those who live near such houses of worship, and that it amounts to "torture." A person has the right to sleep as easily and freely as he or she breathes. A human being's ability to maintain the delicate balance of health required for its basic life and survival depends on their ability to sleep. As a result, sleep is a fundamental and essential requirement without which the very existence of life would be jeopardised. As a result, disturbing sleep would be torture, which is today recognised as a violation of human rights, the plea read. According to the petition, the right of religious organisations to use loudspeakers or amplifiers is not an absolute right under Article 25 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees religious freedom. The plea stated that it is subject to public order, morals, and health.
"All persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise, and spread religion, subject to public order, decency, and health, and to the other provisions of this section," the plea stated. Importantly, the petition cited non-compliance with the Allahabad High Court's ruling in Afzal Ansari v. State of UP, in which the Court held that while Azaan is an essential and integral part of Islam, it cannot be said to be an integral part of the religion when it is recited through loudspeakers or other sound amplifying devices. The petitioner also mentioned issues about public speaker equipment being removed from places of worship. Six of the seven complaints were about the sound of 'Azaan,' and one was over the overuse of public address systems near schools. Sonu Nigam's tweet on Azaan was also mentioned by the petitioner. It was argued that using loudspeakers in religious settings is not a component of any religion and that it cannot be done without the express approval of the local authorities. The Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules of 2000 were used in this case.
Direction to follow the High Court's decision in Afzal Ansari and prohibit the frequent use of public address systems and sound amplifiers for religious recitation and/or prayer calls without the approval of a competent authority.