Noise Pollution: Relation with the Indian Constitution and Religion. In our daily lives, we come across two terms: ‘noise’ and ‘sound’. We use them without knowing their actual meaning. We must differentiate between these two terms. In terms of physics, the sound is a mechanical disturbance propagated as a wave motion in the air and other elastic or mechanical media such as water or steel whereas according to Environmental Health Criteria-12, “noise is considered as any unwanted sound that may adversely affect the health and well-being of individuals or the population.”
There is a huge area which can be covered in noise pollution. talking about one such area, how the Indian Constitution and noise pollution control are related and what relation noise pollution has with the right to religion.
THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION AND NOISE POLLUTION CONTROL
Earlier, our Constitution did not have any provision for noise pollution. By the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976, Article 48-A and Article 51-A. Thus, India became one of few countries which promise to protect and improve the environment. Our Constitution, by way of Directive Principles, imposes a duty on every citizen to help to protect our environment.
A question arose before the Supreme Court in the case of State of Rajasthan v. G. Chawla (1959) that can State Legislature control loud noise and make it punishable? The apex court said that since this right is not absolute, State “has the right to control loud noises when the rights of such users, in disregard to comfort and obligation to others, emerges as a manifest nuisance to them. The state can make laws in the exercise of its power under “Public Health and Sanitation”. Thus the state can control loud noises and music and it is within permissible limits of the Constitution.
The Court has made it clear that persons are free to make noise but not at the cost of violating other’s rights. As soon as it becomes a nuisance, it loses its constitutional freedom. it will also be violative of Article 51-A.
RIGHT TO RELIGION AND NOISE POLLUTION
It has been observed by the Courts that Articles 25 and 26 are not absolute and are subject to certain restrictions. even the Ramleela and Akhanda Path cannot be allowed to produce excessive noise which forces a man to listen to unwanted noise. Since the right to profess and propagate religion under article 25 also relates to health, the noise caused by loudspeakers can be checked in the interest of the health of the public.
The Delhi High Court in case of Free Legal Aid Cell Shri Sugan Chand Aggarwal v. Govt. (NCT of Delhi) (2001) declared:
“…noise can well be regarded as a pollutant because it contaminates the environment, causes nuisance and affects the health of a person and would, therefore, offend the right to life, of Article 21, if it exceeds reasonable limits. it was also observed by the Court that the effect of noise on health has not yet full attention of our judiciary…”
In the case of Acharya Maharajshri Narendra Prasadji v. State of Gujarat, it was held that :
“No right in an organised society can be absolute. Enjoyment of one’s rights must be consistent with the enjoyment of rights of others.
…. one fundamental right of a person may have to coexist in harmony with the exercise of another fundamental right by others and also with the reasonable and valid exercise of powers by the State in the light of the Directive Principles in the interests of social welfare as a whole. “
The Court has declared that the withdrawal of the permission to use loudspeakers did not amount to the denial of freedom of speech and expression. On the other hand, the use of loudspeakers amounts to a violation of the right to life which includes the right to clean, pollution-free environment and freedom from noise.
Exposure to unwilling/undesired noise may cause various kinds of diseases and disorders in the human body as scientific studies have proved this beyond doubt.